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Don't Stop Believing
2006-10-18 22:49
by Cliff Corcoran
Note: The Bronx Banter blog has moved to bronxbanterblog.com.

The Cardinals broke serve in the NLCS on Tuesday night by defeating Mets ace Tom Glavine. Last night, the Mets broke back with a 4-2 win over defending NL Cy Young Award winner Chris Carpenter.

John Maine was inefficient, but effective, escaping a bases loaded jam in the first and stranding men on the corners in the third. Though he walked four, one was an intentional pass to Albert Pujols (2 for 3 with the walk, but neither a run scored nor driven in). Meanwhile, he struck out five in 5 1/3 innings and allowed just two first-inning hits.

On the other side of the ledger, Jose Reyes set the tone by following Maine's first-inning Houdini act with a home run on Carpenter's third pitch of the night. Reyes would go 3 for 4 with that homer, a pair of steals and a second run scored later in the game. Singles by Carlos Beltran, David Wright and Shawn Green increased the Mets' lead to 2-0 in the fourth after which I, sitting high up in the stands over first base, felt the Shea Stadium upper deck sway for the first time.

I'd feel that sway again in the seventh after Paul Lo Duca followed two-out singles and stolen bases by pinch-hitter Michael Tucker and Reyes with a two-RBI single off former Met closer Braden Looper. Those two insurance runs proved to be the difference as Billy Wagner--following 2 1/3 scoreless innings from Chad Bradford, Guillermo Mota and Aaron Heilman--coughed up the only two St. Louis runs of the night in the ninth on a Juan Encarnacion single, a Scott Rolen double, and a two-out, two-RBI pinch-hit double by So Taguchi before finally getting David Eckstein to ground out to send the series to a decisive seventh game to be played in Flushing tonight.

After the Mets tied the series at 2-2, I posted a comment stating that I expected the series to go seven games, but that it looked to me like the Cardinals would ultimately prevail. My reasoning was the Mets' lack of a viable Game 7 starter. I'm more optimistic now that the seventh game is a reality. Not having to use Darren Oliver since he threw six scoreless innings in relief of soon-to-be ex-Met Steve Trachsel in Game 3 will allow Willie Randolph to have an extra-quick hook with announced Game 7 starter Oliver Perez. Perez didn't actually pitch all that well in Game 4, but kept the game close long enough for the Mets offense to start raking for what remains the only time this series. Should Perez start to falter tonight, Randolph should have no qualms about going to Oliver early, after which, it will be all-in. Only Wagner threw more than 14 pitches last night, only Bradford and Mota threw in each of the last two games, and of those two Bradford has thrown most combined pitches with a mere 21.

Of course that optimism is all dependent on the Mets breaking through against Jeff Suppan, who held them scoreless on three hits over eight innings in Game 3. But this is Jeff Suppan after all. The Mets had no problem with him back in May, the only other time they faced him this year.

A couple of other notes on attending the game last night:

Maybe I'm just bitter, but there doesn't seem to be nearly as much negativity among Mets fans as there are among their cross-town counterparts. Even when Billy Wagner pulled his John Wetteland act in the ninth, the stadium got quiet, but no one was ranting or raving about how terrible he was or predicting the imminent demise of their team's season. Maybe its the difference between the upper deck crowd and the bleacher creacher crowd I'm used to in the Bronx, but I can't get through a regular season game without hearing countless predictions of failure from the Yankee "faithful" ("their gonna strand these runners" "he's gonna hit into a double play" "why'd Torre bring him in, he's gonna blow the lead" "here we go . . ."). Meanwhile, in the Mets first NLCS appearance in six years, down a game and facing elimination, I didn't hear a single fan get down on the home team. You gotta believe indeed.

That said, when the Mets increased their lead to 4-0 in the bottom of the seventh, a good number of fans headed for the exits. These people should be banned from Shea for life. How can you leave Game 6 of the LCS (never mind that its the first one your team has been in in six years) after seven innings with a mere four-run lead and the top of the opposition's line-up due up in the top of the eighth? That's mind boggling to me. Another exodus started after Heilman cleared the one-through-four hitters in the Cardinal order in the top of the eighth. I'm sorry, if you're at Game 6 of the LCS with your team fighting for it's postseason life, you don't leave until the last out, never mind the score, but especially when a grand slam could still alter the outcome.

Finally, I'm convinced that the Mets are benefiting from positive sartorial mojo. They've worn their alternate black uniform tops just once this postseason, that being in their ugly Game 3 loss in which Trachsel failed to get out of the second inning and the offense was shut out by Suppan and Josh Kinney. Otherwise they've stuck to their proper home whites and road greys. Down two games to three with their backs against the wall, what did they wear for Game 6? Pinstripes and all-blue caps, just like it oughta be. They even ditched their two-tone batting helmets for solid blue, and though it was hard to find proof, stuck with blue for their undershirts and socks as well. Kudos to the Metropolitans for that one. Now if only they'd ditch the black drop shadow and those nasty two-tone helmets and alternate unis altogether for 2007. Meanwhile, I'm hoping for those pretty blue caps and pinstripes again tonight, as well as a ballgame that lives up to the tight, well-played contests of the last two nights, regardless of the outcome.

Comments (107)
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2006-10-19 04:51:37
1.   Chyll Will
A very fine analysis, Cliff. It's hard to keep your eye off the Mets if you're a New Yorker in most respects, even those who are dyed-in-blue. I agree that some (perhaps most?) Yanks fans have a tendancy to overanylize a team that has consistently achieved greatness and then immediately fails to meet the expectations they set for themselves and the fans (failing to realize, perhaps that the function of this team has changed significantly from the time they were winning championships consistently to today).

However, I partly blame the team for feeding into the pathos; the consistent declarations of "it's meaningless if you don't win the championship" reverberates among fans and says to them that if you don't agree with the objectives of the players themselves, well you're just not a good fan.

There's a strange level of entitlement there that others see and either scratch their heads to or despise, given the success the team has overall. That begs the existenssial question, what is a true fan?

You can't blame Mets fans for cherishing the moment, few as they are, nor can you downplay the significance of fans' expectations. The big battle for Cashman is to build a winning team despite the expectations, as opposed to Minaya building because of them.

Okay, /tangent; I hope someone can take something out of that.

2006-10-19 04:53:55
2.   OldYanksFan
If ARod is NOT traded, he can probably walk next year. He has made well over 150M so far, so money really won't be an issue. I think he'd LIKE to NOT be the highest paid player.

He will have many suitors. If he's willing to compromise on pay to be with his team of choice, it will be quite the 'bidding' war, as I imagine he will be dining with half the owners in baseball.

1) If YOU were ARod, and could pick your team, would would YOU go?
2) Where do you think AROD will go?

Unless the fans take ARod to heart AND he has a great year, he's out of NY after 2007.

I say: He wears a Red Sox uni in 2008.
1) He plays SS if he likes
2) Great Doubles/HRs park for a power righty
3) Lots of history and high profile
4) Rabid fan base.
5) Can help put the Sox in 1st over the Yankees
6) In Boston, he will be 'Jeter'

The Sox can also dump Manny once they have ARod, something they want to do.

Anyone remember how much of his contract he was willing to waive when he almost went to Boston the 1st time?

2006-10-19 05:03:29
3.   bp1
No nasty headlines about the Mets starting third baseman this series, nor has he been dropped to 8th in the order due to his struggles at the plate. If the Mets lose tonight, I doubt there will be much debate over the need to trade him this winter, nor will there be much discussion about his "clutchness" or any comparisons to the man who plays to his left.

But enough about that. There's a game 7 tonight. It will be fun to watch as a somewhat disinterested viewer. Someone will be spraying champagne tonight. For my friend's sake, I say "Let's Go Mets!".

2006-10-19 05:14:42
4.   Sliced Bread
Back with a bang, Cliff.

I'm with you re: the Bronx Bitterness. Yanks fans have become as meanspiritedly critical of their team, and as fatalistic as their New England counterparts -- and it's sickening.

And I'm with you re: the Mets uniforms. The traditional ones are the only way to go.

Leaving the game early? Only if there's an emergency.

2006-10-19 05:23:22
5.   mehmattski
Unfortunately, Cliff, you don't have to go to the upper deck at Yankee stadium to get that kind of doubt: all you have to do is stop by the Banter whenever the Yankees are losing a game. Maybe it's because I was a teenager, but I never remember any kind of doubt when I watched the Yankees from 1996-2001. In fact, the first time I remember thinking "the Yankees are going to blow this" in any series was as David Ortiz's single plopped into centerfield in game 5 of the 2004 ALCS. Other Yankees fans might have other moments, The Slap, The Grand Slam, etc... but the psyche of the Yankees fans haven't recovered from that series.

1 I agree with you, and the problem is that with a $200 million payroll, it really is a disappointment with anything but a championship. With a team sporting a $60 million payroll or so, a team that incorporates many young players along with a mix of veterans, a team that hasn't won anything in a while... there's a lot of excitement for every level of success acheived. It's a different mentality, and it's why I've been saying over and over that I wish the Yankees would finally cut payroll. I know it makes no logical sense, make your team worse to make it better... but as a fan, I want a team that I like to root for.

2 Who is Alex Rodriguez?

2006-10-19 05:23:30
6.   KJC
2 A post about the Mets, and the A-Rod discussion begins?

4 "Leaving the game early? Only if there's an emergency."
I have to admit that I'm guilty of leaving a playoff game early: 2004 ALCS game 3, when it was 17-6 Yanks. For this Sox fan, I think that qualified as an emergency.

2006-10-19 05:24:48
7.   Sliced Bread
1 Right on, Chyll.

Even if the teams are similarly constructed (mix of young homegrowns and cherry picked All-Stars) there's a huge difference between "You Gotta Believe" and "Pride. Power. Pinstripes." the former marketing mantra being infinitely more organic and appealing than the latter, which is wretched.

2006-10-19 05:34:57
8.   Yankee Fan In Boston
7 i'm 98% certain that the slogan "pride & power" was on my stadium giveaway calendar from 1986. (maybe '85 or '87?)

i thought it was weak when i was roughly 10 years old, and i thought it was weak when they dusted it off this season.

how about some "pride and pitching" for '07?

that said, the "our team our time" campaign for the mets seemed slightly better... until i heard the accompanying song.

ouch.

2006-10-19 05:54:15
9.   Alex Belth
A fine return Cliff. Thanks for the post. The Cards missed about a good half-dozen fastballs last night. Then Billy Wagner is tossing 85 mph sliders to the likes of Rolen and Taguchi. Say huh?

I don't see the Cards winning tonight. Mets got the MoMentum. My feeling is that they'll romp tonight. 8-3.

2006-10-19 06:09:05
10.   Sliced Bread
9 Yeah, it wasn't pretty. The Cards hitters made Maine look good.
Had Maine been wearing a Yankees uniform, pitching against an AL playoff team he wouldn't have seen the 3rd inning.
The Mets should romp. The Cardinals stink. Good-for-nuthin' stinky red boids.
2006-10-19 06:36:17
11.   willdthrill
Yanks fans have become as meanspiritedly critical of their team

Give the Mets fans a run like the last 11 seasons in the Bronx. Trust me, they'll get a little impatient with the roster construction and the manager's bullpen usage patterns as well. There's nothing inherently different between Mets fans and Yankees fans, even if one side wants desperately to proclaim the other inferior and insufficient in qualities that makes the other fit to be part of humanity and the civilized world. I do have a gripe with the Mets fans: Given that coming into the post season and even into this series with the diminished pitching staff, the Mets have been pretty unanimously touted as the favorites to get to the WS, it seems disingenious by some Mets fans online and on the talk shows to portray their team as if they were underdogs with a lot of "heart" and "resiliency." They still have the biggest payroll among the three teams still in the playoffs and was touted by some of their fans as the "best team in the majors" during the regular season. To have to play two elmination games against a team that was 10+ games worse than you during the regular season is hardly the mark of an underdog. Heavy is the head that wears the crown. Sorry Mets fans, you can't have your cake and eat it too.

2006-10-19 06:39:04
12.   jkay
Wagner was boo'ed big time by the home fans when he was taken out in NLCS gane 2. No boos last night because the Mets led start to finish.

If the games did not start so late, more people would stick it out until the end. Games starting 8:30, ending near midnight means getting home at 1am. That is tough to ask for on a weeknight for most folks.

2006-10-19 06:46:12
13.   vockins
I agree that anyone leaving any game (much less a playoff game) before the last out is recorded should just stay at home. It's a point of pride that I stayed in my seat in Tier 22 during Game 7 of the 2004 ALCS for the full suffer.

Still, I wouldn't call a playoff crowd at Yankee Stadium a true representation of "the real fans," so I think the vast majority of Mets fans should get a pass. All kinds of velvet rope, make-the-scene jackasses come out of the woodwork in the postseason. For every moron that's trying to beat the traffic, there are probably 20 working stiffs that couldn't swing a scalper's markup that are glued to the TV.

And the Mets fans I was watching with were pretty pessimistic...

2006-10-19 07:02:35
14.   Shaun P
1 That was a great post, Chyll, very nicely said.

5 I felt doubt in 1996, and ever since. The difference for me was I knew less back then. In retrospect, I'm sure I would have been hounding about the overusage of Nelson, Stanton, and Mendoza, and especially about the awful post-'99 bench construction - if I had known enough to recognize those things at the time. Mets fans will come around, especially if the Mets lose tonight.

Joe Sheehan had a great piece at BP the other day about how stupid it was for the Mets to carry Anderson Hernandez instead of Lastings Milledge on the LCS roster. He's right, but as we all know, winning cures a lot of problems.

I'll be very surprised if the Mets don't win tonight.

2006-10-19 07:11:29
15.   rsmith51
I went to game 4 of the ALDS in Detroit and left after the eighth inning. I would never leave Yankee stadium before the end of the game, but down 8-1 I didn't feel like dealing with drunk Tiger fans on my way out to my car. I think it would have been worse if the Yankees somehow came back and won it. I don't think I will ever go to a road playoff game, definitely not in Detroit.

Maybe the fans figured if the Mets blew a 4-0 lead at home to end the season, they didn't want to be there to witness it. Not saying I agree as I would have stayed until the end, but I can empathize after sitting through game 4 of the Yanks series.

2006-10-19 07:13:26
16.   bp1
About the game last night ....

I enjoy watching Delgado bat. He's like Sheff in that he rarely gets cheated on his swing. He's one of those guys who draw an "oooo" reaction from a foul ball.

Is Wagner this year's Lidge?

One of my favorite parts of these games is the moment right before the first pitch - when the camera zooms in on the pitcher. I couldn't help but wonder what was going through Maine's mind at that moment, or how hard his heart was pounding. Good for him that he held it together.

I was laughing when McCarver said about a dozen times that the comebacker to Maine hit the rubber, even though the numerous replays clearly showed it never came close. Some of these guys - once they say something they feel like they gotta stick with it no matter what. I just thank God we don't have to put up with ESPN broadcast team. Listening to Joe Morgan for a 7 game series would really test my fandom.

I was begging for Maine to tip his cap on the way to the dugout when he got pulled. I again wondered what was going through his head. What a high he must have been feeling. But of course the Fox cameras could not follow him into the dugout 'cause they had to make sure we know that Jay Z is back. Ugh. The high fives from the team in the dugout is a highlight worth showing. That's like starting the music and cutting to commercial during the "Best Actor" acceptance speech.

I thought the ump was inconsistent in his strike zone last night. Seemed like Maine was getting squeezed early, but then things got more generous as the game went on. Hate that. I'm sure the players hate it as well.

The first inning curtain call. We've hashed this over before, but geez. The game has barely started. Sure - cheer until your throat bleeds - but no curtain calls after only one batter.

Gotta love a 7th game. All hands on deck. I can't wait.

2006-10-19 07:13:43
17.   Alvaro Espinoza
I'm a little suprised. I know a lot of Mets fans who hold their collective breath, rightly or wrongly, when Wagner enters the game. When he took the loss in Gm 2, you could find plenty of derisive comments on Mets blogs (i.e. replacing the 'W' in Wagner with an 'F').

13 I agree. Not sure to what degree a playoff crowd is indicative of the typical die hards. There's always a certain aloofness in the air in a postseason crowd. It may have also been that as far as the Mets and their fans were concerned, there really wasn't a lot to be negative about. Maine gave more than he was asked for. He then yielded to Bradford-Mota-Heilman-Wagner. With the possible exception of Mota (many Mets fans aren't as enamored w/ him as Randolph appears to be), that's exactly the progression you expect to see just like Stanton-Nelson-Rivera from years gone by.

But I do see Cliff's larger point of experiencing negativity no matter how well the game is going. In the end, all baseball fans are winners. Looking forward to Gm 7!

2006-10-19 07:16:30
18.   Sliced Bread
11 "Give the Mets fans a run like the last 11 seasons in the Bronx. Trust me, they'll get a little impatient with..."

Only if they lose perspective.

Having endured the Yankee mediocrity of the 80's, and the misery of the early 90's, I embraced the exciting success of the '96-'01 run as a gift that I was lucky to receive, not as an entitlement.

It's natural for baseball fans of any team to question the manager, or GM from time to time, but the loud, meanspirited criticism and fatalism in Yankeeland has become beyond obnoxious. Where's the pride?

The way I look at it, as a Yanks fan since '76 (when I was ten), I've celebrated more World Championships, and World Series appearances than fans of any other team will probably enjoy in their lifetime. Any more would be icing on the icing on the cake. It's very easy to chill out, and appreciate the Yanks from that perspective. Maintaining that perspective in the heat of the season is the tricky part.

2006-10-19 07:26:47
19.   Chyll Will
I firmly believe that it was impatience that led to the team as presently constructed. In 2001, the Yankees were thisclose to winning their fourth consecutive WS, but things happen. What happened after that was sheer panic, led by Tampa obfuscators/observers who seemingly have as much knowledge about team building as ________.

That said, I don't really expect a championship again until those decisions finally expire and the method of interspersing home-grown All-Star talent with key contributor vets (not necessarily All-Stars) takes root once again. That might not be for another two years at absolute best, three seriously. Sure we'll see good teams, but none that can get as far as we've been seeing the last few years, unless a home-grown core miraculously blossoms quickly. Again, not counting on it now.

2006-10-19 07:28:42
20.   weeping for brunnhilde
5 "I agree with you, and the problem is that with a $200 million payroll, it really is a disappointment with anything but a championship. With a team sporting a $60 million payroll or so, a team that incorporates many young players along with a mix of veterans, a team that hasn't won anything in a while... there's a lot of excitement for every level of success acheived. It's a different mentality, and it's why I've been saying over and over that I wish the Yankees would finally cut payroll. I know it makes no logical sense, make your team worse to make it better... but as a fan, I want a team that I like to root for."

Very well said.

It's this sense of being part of a larger project that makes being a fan all the more meaningful. Watching a team actually develop by integrating a lot of young or otherwise unfamiliar, low-profile players is more gratifying.

I agree I'd like to see the Yanks get worse to get better.

2006-10-19 07:31:08
21.   Sliced Bread
19 I don't think it was as much panic that followed 2001, but misguided gluttony dictated by George's weird mantra "Beat Us. Join Us. At All Costs."
2006-10-19 07:34:39
22.   bp1
18 "Maintaining that perspective in the heat of the season is the tricky part."

Yup. Funny thing is, I hang on every pitch now like I did back when I was a kid. Little has changed. Back then I'd listen to ballgames on the radio and run to get the newspaper to check the scores - now I can watch every game if my wife and kids will let me (and God Bless 'em they pretty much do) or just fire up a browser to check out the gazillion game summaries if I missed it.

Times have changed, but the passion to watch the Yankees win ballgames has not. The losses are just as painful, and the wins are just as fullfilling. I do not expect or feel entitled to anything as far as seasonal goals, but the thrill of the season long roller coaster ride hasn't faded one bit in the 30 years I've been following the Yankees.

I don't know what it is like to be a Cubs fan. How could I? I only know what it is like to be a Yankees fan. I root hard, pray for wins, and sometimes get disappointed or angry at losses. I wouldn't have it any other way.

2006-10-19 07:36:36
23.   Chyll Will
21 You can look at it both ways. Cutting loose Andy Pettitte was misguided (even though he suffered arm injury right afterwards, but who knows), but picking up Kevin Brown was a strict panic move.
2006-10-19 07:38:32
24.   pistolpete
Good post, but I'm just not understanding all the Mets love. There's no way in hell their fans would be pulling for our team in this type of situation.

That said, the negativity has been slowly bubbling below the surface, IMO, since the end of 2001. Before that, we could do no wrong. The "here we go" mentality, instead of referring to our current trend of an imminent collapse, used to signify a late-inning comeback and ultimately, a victory.

With our ineffectiveness in the 2002 ALDS, a lackluster showing in 2003, and the ultimate letdown in 2004, it's almost as if Yankees fans would rather not make the postseason, just to be spared any further indignities. Seems like every year this group finds new and more interesting ways to derail in the playoffs.

2006-10-19 07:38:38
25.   weeping for brunnhilde
16 Yeah, I was pissed they didn't follow Maine into the dugout as well. That was just unexcusable; baseball is about these moments!

Also, as to camera work, I really, really wish that broadcasts would make better use of the above-the-field camera, the one that would allow us to actually evaluate outfielders.

The most important part of being an outfielder is getting a good jump or taking the right route to a ball, so why don't they allow fans to see this?

I thought about this a couple times, one was on that blooper to Shawn Green in the first: I noticed when the ball fell he wasn't even close to it and wondered how that could be, given the ball's hang-time.

I just think outfielding is a thing of beauty and since they have those cameras, why not use them?

2006-10-19 07:56:43
26.   Chyll Will
24 "That's a trick question. You ain't supposed to love dem hoes." (If you know cartoons, you know where that came from and applies to that ponderment) >;)

I see a case for the building negativity, but what is it really worth? Reactionaries are a part of life, but building on negative emphasis is again part of the reason why these teams have failed to meet their own expectations. It's no fun losing, but until this year (and only for a few months before the gas ran out at the end), it wasn't that much fun winning, either.

Except: Aaron F@#%ing Boone... >;)

2006-10-19 07:57:42
27.   Sliced Bread
23 Yeah, losing Pettitte, Clemens, and Wells in the same winter definitely led to panic and eventually vomit in Yankeeland.

5 "with a $200 million payroll, it really is a disappointment with anything but a championship."

Only if you're Steinbrenner. The payroll doesn't win championships. Don't believe me? Ask Steinbrenner. He's shelled out a billion dollars since the last one, hoping to buy the next one.

You want the Yanks to get worse so they can get better, so you can enjoy rooting for them again? 5

I understand the downsizing sentiment there, and the joy of watching home growns, but the Yanks don't have to get worse to get better. They need to get better pitching. Cheap, farm grown pitching help is on the way, I assure you. There will be plenty for you to like about the '07 Yanks even if they don't have the fire sale you seem to be hoping for.

2006-10-19 08:07:18
28.   Simone
27 "Only if you're Steinbrenner. The payroll doesn't win championships. Don't believe me? Ask Steinbrenner. He's shelled out a billion dollars since the last one, hoping to buy the next one."

Or a Red Sox fan or a fan of any other team. I'll never understand how a Yankee fan can honestly believe that the size of the payroll buys a championship.

All the Yankees need to increase their chance of winning the World Series is better and younger pitching. However, if finding this good pitching is the trick. With Hughes and Clippard on their way, things may turn around by 2008 though.

2006-10-19 08:16:14
29.   Sliced Bread
24 "it's almost as if Yankees fans would rather not make the postseason, just to be spared any further indignities"

Not me. As humiliating as playoff losses seem at the the time, I think there's really no indignity to losing in October.
Indignity is quitting, or cheating.
Losing in October is not necessarily noble, mind you, but it's not necessarily shameful either. It's baseball. Things happen. Failure happens a lot in baseball.
I wore my Yanks hat to Game 7 of the 2004 ALCS. I wore my Yanks hat home when it was over, and I wore it the day after that.
I wore my Yanks hat the day after they fell to the Diamondbacks, Angels (twice), Marlins, Tigers. I'm proud to be a Yankees fan, no matter how far they go in October, or how short they fall. That's pride, not arrogance. Big difference. Arrogance is undignified.

2006-10-19 08:18:44
30.   bp1
28 "I'll never understand how a Yankee fan can honestly believe that the size of the payroll buys a championship."

Right. It certainly contributes to a team's ability to reach the post season, and overcome injuries during the regular season, but after that, it's all about the men on the field, not the size of their bank accounts. Money can't buy a base hit or a strikeout, no matter what a bunch of hypocrite billionaire owners who don't spend George's revenue sharing money will tell us.

2006-10-19 08:21:54
31.   Shaun P
19 I don't think there was "panic" involved post-'01, Chyll. Maybe too much spending and not enough building from within, but what else is new (until lately).

The real problem post-'01 was that some smart moves on the pitching side didn't work out. Particularly trading for Jeff Weaver and later Javy Vazquez. Each was brilliant at the time they were acquired. Who knew both would implode as badly as they did?

Hindsight being 20-20 and all, but imagine for a moment IF Weaver and Vazquez had pitched the way they were expected to. Wow.

2006-10-19 08:29:09
32.   jameson and water
I like the black shirts. They make the players look fairly dashing, and look several thousand orders of magnitude more flattering than the old style on the average pudgy man on the the street. Who I'm far more likely to run into on the subway than Jose Reyes.
2006-10-19 08:33:36
33.   Sliced Bread
24 "not understanding all the Mets love. There's no way in hell their fans would be pulling for our team in this type of situation."

That's true. I think Mets fans perceive any support their team is receiving at this point from Yanks fans as insincere or worse -- condescending.

A nurse came to my office today to administer flu shots. Making polite conversation, I remarked about the warm weather, and asked if she was a Mets fan.
She is. Big time. Old school. Raised a Dodgers fan in Brooklyn. Hates, hates, hates the Yanks.

I told her my short story about growing up in Flushing, and jumping on the Yanks bandwagon in '76, idolizing Randolph as a kid, and how the Mets have always had a place in my yada, yada, blah, blah, blah...

She seemed to buy my spiel, but at the same time, was visibly uncomfortable to be around a Yanks fan. Nurse Metsie also appeared baffled and even a little annoyed that I was supporting her beloved boys in blue & orange.

Nurse Metsie was polite about her hate for my Yanks, and expressed tepid appreciation for my Mets support.

I hope she didn't give me a dirty needle.

2006-10-19 08:34:05
34.   pistolpete
29 As painful as it would have been, I'd rather not made the playoffs this past year so the mentality of piling on more mediocre (yet insanely expensive) free agents would stop.

As long as we keep coming up just short, it seems like the front office believes we only need one or two puzzle pieces to make this work.

2006-10-19 08:34:29
35.   Zack
Okay, as one person to stand up for negativity here goes:

I've been a fan my whole life, in a family of die hard fans, and we all come at the Yankees with teh same approach, namely, constantly convinced they will let us down. Perhaps its a reflection of the old spirit of New York from my great grandfather, perhaps its reflective of the eras that some of us grew up in: the late 60s and 80s, where they really would consistantly let us down, but there it is. It has nothing to do with "feeling entitled," it has nothing to do with this team as opposed to any other, its just a way of rooting. Some fans are willing to forgive their team no matter what, have unlimited opptimism, and just wait till next year. I, on the other hand, don't forgive their mistakes, get annyoed with them as if they were people directly in my lives, and live for every game, so that a loss is very hard to stomach for me. If they lost because of their own fault, why not be negative, they deserve it?

And the reason we never really had to worry to much in the "dynasty" years was that we never approached a game 7 until 2001...

2006-10-19 08:37:34
36.   mehmattski
29 Fire sale is putting it a little too extremely. There are reasonable ways to put together a winning team, and simply throwing money at aging veterans isn't one of them. A fire sale of Marlins proportions isn't possible with this Yankees tea. With the size of the players' contracts, there's no way Cashman could pull the next Anibal Sanchez, Josh Johnson, or Hanley Ramirez from an unsuspecting team in exchange for Giambi or Randy Johnson, two of the biggest contracts with the least returns.

You're right that there will be much to root for next year: I'm excited about Cano's improvement, I'm hoping that the Revolving Melky experiment works out, and I hope to see Phil Hughes in pinstripes at some point in the season. There's a common thread there: young players.

I don't want a "fire sale." I want a change in philosophy in that we won't go after every big free agent name at any cost, and then have to trade our prospects when those aging veterans go down and need to be replaced. When Yankee Stadium III opens in 2009, I want the outfield to be Jose Tabata, Austin Jackson, and Brent Gardner (hopefully, Damon's been traded for pitching at this point). I don't want to cut payroll for cutting payroll's sake, I want it to happen with young players (who coincidentally cost less), giving the team a ton more flexibility.

In order for that to happen, there has to be a change in philosophy. And continued excellent drafts and international signings.

This offseason: give me Matsuzaka OR Zito (not both), give me a backup catcher who can hit a lick, and give me a good defensive first baseman. That's all.

As for Yankee doubt... why do I get the feeling we'll end up with Jason Schmidt and Barry Bonds?

2006-10-19 08:37:43
37.   Simone
31 I was so excited when the Yankees acquired Vazquez in particular. I was convinced that he would be the young ace who do great things as he led the Yankees into the playoffs for years to come. What a let down. A good Weaver and Vazquez along with a decent Contreras would have given the Yankees a solid rotation, but it just never happened. It is one of those "what could have been" fantasies.
2006-10-19 08:41:57
38.   Sliced Bread
35 I know a lot of Yanks fans like you and yours, Zack, and more importantly, I like them, even if I don't share their perspective. Thanks for standing up for, and explaining your negativity.
2006-10-19 08:49:33
39.   Chyll Will
27 Sarcasm?

31 Maybe you and SB are right. I suppose that there was not much precedent for Brown to basically be the enigma he became, coming off a very decent season in LA the year before, but naturally the press at the time (when I still believed there was a smidgen of credibility there) insinuated that it was a move made because they didn't actually expect Pettitte to leave. I don't forget that Vazquez practically begged on his hands and knees for another chance before he was "banished" to Arizona in exchange for /another brilliant move/, Randy Johnson.

What does this mean? Are we complicit in the failures of what is considered top-shelf pitching (or otherwise) because of the expectations we have for them? Or, as the case may be, are we even willing to admit that?

2006-10-19 08:54:18
40.   Sliced Bread
39 No, Chyll, I wasn't being sarcastic. I was agreeing with you that the Yanks made some panic moves
2006-10-19 08:54:57
41.   weeping for brunnhilde
36 Hear, hear.

37 Simone, you raise a good point about Weaver and Vazquez and Contreras. I think all three of them represent the problem with the organization.

Forgive me if my memory fails, but Weaver was around longer than the others, right?

But still, none of them was held long enough. In my opinion, it's crazy to bring new people in if you're not prepared to see them through to the end.

All three of those pitchers had potential and all three under-performed, presumably because they couldn't pitch in the Bronx.

But what if they'd been given more time to get comfortable?

That kind of organization panic, not being willing to adopt a plan and stick with it, is unsettling to me as a fan who wants the chance to watch people actually develop.

Sometimes they will, sometimes they won't, but they need time.

And moreover, what kind of message does that send to new players asked to come in?

This team has a miserable, miserable track record as to starting pitching. It lets go of solid guys with track records (Duque, Pettitte, Wells, Lieber) while acquiring Johnson, expecting him to be dominant even though there's no rational reason to expect he might be so.

The problem with the win-it-all-now is that that approach makes real long-term investment impossible.

I for one am ready to see the team adopt a plan and stick to it for longer than five months.

2006-10-19 08:56:39
42.   Sliced Bread
40 I think Wright was the biggest panic move. They knew he was hurting,(failed his physical, right?) but went deep and long with his contract because he was a big name, and they were desperate to revamp the rotation.
2006-10-19 08:59:44
43.   Yankee Fan In Boston
36
please, do not utter the names given in the last line of that post. let's all keep our distance. i'd have a hard time rooting for a team with that last guy on it.
2006-10-19 09:09:02
44.   Sliced Bread
36 "I want a change in philosophy in that we won't go after every big free agent name at any cost..."

and in the same post you say: "This offseason: give me Matsuzaka OR Zito (not both), give me a backup catcher who can hit a lick, and give me a good defensive first baseman. That's all."

Well, it's reasonable that you don't want BOTH Zito AND Matsuzaka, but will you still like the '07 Yanks if you get neither of them, and if Hughes isn't ready? and if you don't get the defensive first baseman you desire, or the backup catcher every team is looking for?

2006-10-19 09:09:10
45.   Chyll Will
40 Oh. Cool. Sometimes I can't tell with you, so I had to ask >;)

Negativity has a place, but not in constructing a team. Reactionary is based on negativity, and that's what happened IMO after 2001. Still, I feel frustrated when the Yankees lose, only because the moves many people agree should work don't work out and we have no control over that.

If I were Uri Gellar and a Yankee fan, Jeter would have more range to his left than the entire outfield, Pavano = Cy Young and A-Rod would have 300 hits the next three seasons and share post-season honors with Jeter, Posada and Mo.

That said, I want to keep my stomach acids at normal quantities, so I don't hold grudges that long. I know, I'm a bad New Yorker, but to each their own.

2006-10-19 09:13:48
46.   jonnystrongleg
The Yankees have failed to remake the rotation since the 2003 World Series. Beginning in 2003, they have acquired Jeff Weaver, Jose Contreras, Kevin Brown, Javier Vazquez, Jon Lieber, Esteban Loaiza, Carl Pavano, Jaret Wright, Randy Johnson, Shawn Chacon and Cory Lidle.

Loaiza did OK with the A's this year, and Contreras has proven somewhat reliable, but overall, this group has very little quality in it. Not that I know exactly what was available at all times, or why exactly these guys haven't performed, but my guess is that a lot of them came from the National League and the Yanks (and their fans) expectations were way too high. We were just to slow to realize the talent gap. Especially for Vazquez, Brown, Wright, Pavano, and Johnson. These guys produced stats in the NL that were simply not going to materialize in the AL East in any recognizable fashion.

To get better, the Yanks might want to stick to AL tested guys and promotion from within for starting pitching while conitnuing to field a top notch offense to help the young guys get past their growing pains.

2006-10-19 09:13:52
47.   Chyll Will
43 Barry Booonnnds! Gonna put it on youuuuu!
2006-10-19 09:15:12
48.   mehmattski
43 What's worse, is that over on the YES website, they have a poll asking which free agent pitcher the Yankees should sign:

Armas Jr
Lilly
Shmitty
Randy Wolf
Zito

After being not at all surprised that Matsuzaka wasn't a choice, I picked Zito to see the results. After roughly 1300 votes, fifty-two people voted for Randy Wolf. Fifty-three for Armas Jr.

Yikes.

2006-10-19 09:18:38
49.   mehmattski
44 Oh, don't get me wrong, I'll still root for the team no matter who makes up the roster... just as I did when we had Greg Cateret, Erick Plunk, and Dave Eiland... just as I would if we did the unspeakable and signed [name deleted by YFIB].
2006-10-19 09:25:04
50.   pistolpete
Here's a thought - do we re-sign Pettite for 2 years as a stopgap until the younger guys like Hughes and Clippard are ready?

2007:

Johnson
Wang
Matsuzaka
Pettite
Mussina

2008 (slowly phasing out the older guys):

Wang
Matsuzaka
Hughes
Pettite
Mussina

2009:

Wang
Matsuzaka
Hughes
Clippard
?

Show/Hide Comments 51-100
2006-10-19 09:26:40
51.   Sliced Bread
41 "acquiring Johnson, expecting him to be dominant even though there's no rational reason to expect he might be so."

How irrational was it to expect greatness from Johnson following his final year on the Diamondbacks when he did this?:

2004
35 games, 245 innings, 290 strikeouts, 2.60 ERA, .9 WHIP.

He's broken down for his postseasons with the Yanks, but he's been a work horse during his two seasons here.

46 Schilling has done okay for himself since coming over from the NL, no? I wouldn't rule out an NL pitcher on the Yanks.

49 You'll still root, but you won't like it.

2006-10-19 09:28:34
52.   Chyll Will
46 The only problem with that is we can't assume that Cashman is not telling the truth when he says the deals are not prudent or even there. Why would a smart man not make a deal for some young, quality pitching if the costs were something that could be met? Cashman repeatedly stated that he wasn't giving up the farm for one player to push them ahead, especially since playing competitively in the playoffs is not a given.

Vazquez was a quality pitcher on a bad team, so was Weaver. They didn't meet expectations and were dismissed, although in Vazquez' case it was probably too soon. Who are you going to get in the AL that's lights out that won't cost you your two best prospects? That's what they're asking for, and honestly they'd be stupid not to ask.

I'd leave Chacon off that list; he was a deadline change-of-season (tinyhyphen?) pickup that worked down the stretch. Small had one incredible season. Neither one of them were expected to do much of anything except eat innings. They reverted to form the next season and are gone because of that, not because they failed to live up to high expectations.

2006-10-19 09:38:09
53.   willdthrill
Here's a thought - do we re-sign Pettite for 2 years as a stopgap until the younger guys like Hughes and Clippard are ready?

Why even sign any free agents. I say the Yanks should go with:

Wang
Mussina
Wright
Rasner
Karsten/Unit

for 2007. Unit & Wright holds the spot for Hughes and Clippard in 2008. Or better yet, spin Unit off at the trading deadline for more prospects at the trading deadline and promote Clippard/Hughes (whoever's ready first) in 2nd half of year.

2006-10-19 09:38:14
54.   vockins
36 NO ZITO.

Yes, I am working on the website.

2006-10-19 09:43:32
55.   YankeeInMichigan
31 37 41 The bottom line is that acquiring someone else's pitcher is kind of like buying a used car. Despite the obvious value of an ace hurler, the other team decided to cut ties, so the new owner is assuming a significant risk. The added Bronx preassure element increases this risk. The Yankees got lucky with Cone, Wells, Clemens and El Duque. The luck ran out with Weaver, Contreras, Brown, Loaiza, Vazquez, Pavano and Wright.

Have other teams done much better with their 2nd-hand pitchers? Hudson in Atlanta? Mulder in St. Louis? Vazquez in Arizona or Chicago? Pedro in Flushing (1 good year - 2 nervously pending)? Pettite in Houston (1 good year out of 3)? Lieber in Philly (1/2 a good year out of 2)?

An 80% home-grown staff (see Oakland, Anaheim, Detroit, Minnesota) is the safest way to go.

2006-10-19 09:43:38
56.   weeping for brunnhilde
52 The question is whether big name acquisitions are made because they're good for business or whether they're made because they're really expected to help the team win.

For instance, I often hear about how Hideki's popularity in Japan, and thus the Yankees' ability to cash in on his celebrity, is one factor in keeping him on the club.

In my view, this is a travesty. No one should be on the club because of off-field market value.

Sluggers, for instance, seem to appeal more to casual fans than non-sluggers, which means that, irrespective of how and whether they help their team win on the field, they put buts in the seats. They become attractions.

Randy Johnson is an attraction, and probably brings in more casual fans than would an unknown pitcher with comparable numbers.

I think turning the Yankees into an all-star team is more influenced by marketability than by real desire to field a winning team.

Of course, fielding an all-star team is going to lead to wins, I get that.

But my real question is, if it comes down to taking a chance on Randy Johnson and taking a chance on a kid who's just as likely to pitch to a 5 ERA, marketability is the decisive factor.

In the interests of baseball, that has to stop.

2006-10-19 09:46:01
57.   pistolpete
53 I think Wright's better off as a long man, IMO. 5 innings every time out is murder on the pen, regardless of how fabulous those 5 innings may be...
2006-10-19 09:47:23
58.   JL25and3
35, 38 Exactly, Zack. Your - our - attitude is pessimism down to the bone. It's not the expectation that the Yankees should win every year but the certainty that they will disappoint us. If they win the world Series, part of me is still waiting for the other shoe to drop.

And the 1967/1991 experience is crucial. I don't think there's anything that can substitute for learning to root for a really, really awful team. And it has its advantages - you get to put your feet up and spread out a little.

2006-10-19 09:51:16
59.   OldYanksFan
Is Sheff a Yankee in 2007 at $13M? What role does he play?

Moose wants to pitch at least 2 more years. Is this in a Yankee uniform? Looking at FAs over the next 2 years, what's he worth? I think he wants to finish his career in NY.

Should we have Melky in CF, JD at 1st and Giambino primarily at DH? Can Damon possibly still be walking in 2008 and 2009 if we keep him in CF? Can he throw a ball ALL the way to 2nd base from 1st base?

If RJ is BELOW league average next year (like he was this year), and while we have to pay him, do we have to PLAY him? We talk about a #1 or #2 guy, but who is our #4, #5 and #6 guys?

Mr. Do-Wright only costs us $3.5M next year. Does it make sense to let him go? What kind of pitcher do you get in FA with $3.5M?

I don't believe the Yankee brass will bring up Hughes next year, except maybe late, to see if he can contribute to our PS rouster. Am I wrong?

Posada had a good year... but how long will he last. Do we get a quasi-decent backup C, or go all-out and get Posada's eventual replacement?

Damon had the LOWEST OBP of any 2007 starting Yankee. Does he continue to leadoff? Or bat 9th?

Is Miggy a Yankee next year? I hope so. For a shitty player, he's pretty good for us.

Cashman is concerned with payroll, and I think he wants to keep it around/below $200M, and continue to lower it. Matsuzaka will probably cost $60-70M for 4 years. Do we spend $15+M for a Pitcher? (Yes Mike, I know... he looks great... but so did Weaver and Vazquez, and RJ was coming off a great year).

And..................
(no personal feelings, no opinions, no conjecture, just the facts)
WHAT ABOUT AROD?

(this is still a Yankees blog, yes?)

2006-10-19 09:52:39
60.   Sliced Bread
53 Now you're talkin. I'd be fine with something like that rotation for '07, providing Mussina's back for less money, and two years tops.
Other than that, over 30 years old need not apply to pitch for the Yanks.

I think they should certainly go for Matsuzaka, but let somebody else go super crazy for him.

They should show enough interest in Zito to drive up the price Boston or the Mets pay for him, but let somebody else have him.

I doubt your evil-genius plan to spin Unit into prospects at the trade buzzer will work, but I like the way you're thinking.

2006-10-19 09:54:00
61.   YankeeInMichigan
53 I presume that you are not advocating picking up Moose's $20 million dollar option. The only other way to keep Moose is to re-acquire him as a free agent.

Regardless, your pitching staff consists of a #2 (Wang), two #3s (Moose and Unit), a #4 (Wright), a #5 (Rasner) and a #6 (Karstens).

You could also insert Pavano as another #2 for about 10 weeks.

Clippard's ceiling is as a #3-#4. Hughes is certainly a potential ace, but if the Yankees thrust him into that role to quickly, they risk developing another Vazquez (or even worse, a Prior). I say that Hughes should join the rotation around Memorial Day and stay on a limited pitch count through 2007 before stepping into the ace role in 2008.

That leaves a gaping front-of-the-rotation gap for two years. I do not see it being filled by any means other than a miraculous re-emergence of Pavano or by an A-Rod trade.

2006-10-19 09:59:05
62.   pistolpete
61 The Yankees should seriously look at how the Twins developed Santana as a blueprint for Hughes. He really should start his first full game until sometime in August or September of this year.
2006-10-19 10:05:02
63.   pistolpete
62 "He really shouldn't start his first full game..."
2006-10-19 10:05:44
64.   JL25and3
55 "An 80% home-grown staff (see Oakland, Anaheim, Detroit, Minnesota) is the safest way to go."

Through all the championship years, the starting rotation consisted of Andy Pettitte and a bunch of free agents. The problem isn't necessarily free agents, it's which free agents. (Yes, Ted Lilly contributed for a couple of years. I don't think that changes the basic premise much.)

As far as I can tell, the last time the Yankees had 4 homegrown pitchers in the rotation was 1986 - and even there I'm fudging and giving them credit for Dennis Rasmussen, who came up with the Padres. (The others were Guidry, Drabek and Tewksbury.)

2006-10-19 10:08:54
65.   willdthrill
I doubt your evil-genius plan to spin Unit into prospects at the trade buzzer will work, but I like the way you're thinking.

Unit needs to be healthy. If healthy, I think some contending team, esp. in the NL, will want someone like the Unit to start a few games down the stretch. Realistically, if you can get 2 AA players with marginal upside I think it should be consider a steal. And the prohibitive cost is some what diminished since it will be his last year of his contract and convincing the Yankees to take on most his salary wouldn't be much of problem. If Unit doesn't come back healthy, then Karsten as a cheap option as a fifth starter is something I think we can all live with.

2006-10-19 10:09:17
66.   JL25and3
62 Weaver's Eighth Law: The best place for a rookie pitcher is in long relief.

Earl Weaver's Laws are still the best.

2006-10-19 10:12:35
67.   pistolpete
What are the other Weaver laws?
2006-10-19 10:14:18
68.   Zack
64 Exactly, there is a big difference between haveing homegrown Pettitte complimented by either Clemens/Cone, or Wells/Cone, and Hernandez. Honestly, I don't know what the difference is, maybe its the Wells/Clemens/Cone mentality of the time, maybe it was having all of them together. Whatever the case, its nto so much how they were brought in, but who they were...
2006-10-19 10:18:56
69.   Chyll Will
56 Matsui's popularity was not what ultimately sealed the deal with the Yankees. His durability and his production, which were the factors which made him popular, was what the Yankees interested in him, same as the current interest in Matsuzaka. That they were able to market him big-time was an advantage they were capable of exploiting and make into a reality. The only other places his popularity and marketability would work to the team's advantage would be Seattle and LA.

And nobody, not even resident cellar dwellers, deliberately throws big money at a mediocre pitcher. That Randy Johnson became mediocre was not the idea or the plan. Can you imagine the uproar if the Yankees don't compete for a Randy Johnson coming off a lights-out season, or an available free agent stud that would fill an obvious need? They competed for Schilling, Boston won. Would Schilling have made a difference in 2004 if he were on our side? Would that even be a remotely positive situation?

My point, the Yankees under the factionalism would promote Steinbrenner's modus operandi of big name-big ticket to fill seats, but currently Cashman and others seem to be trying to focus on getting the best player to fill a specific need (whether he has a big ticket or not.)

2006-10-19 10:19:37
70.   willdthrill
YankeeInMichigan, It seems likely that the gaping hole in the rotation will continue to exist even if the Yanks were to bid and successfully sign Gyroball-san. Uness you can guarantee that his career numbers and competition level will translate exactly from Japan to the US. And the contract that will be required to sign Zito will most likely be so over the market value, you'd be better off saving the money and investing in other parts of the roster. Re-signing Mussina for 2 years and exercising the option on Wright would seem to be the most cost effective thing to do in the short term and offer better roster flexibility for the long term. Now, if only the Tigers would be willing to trade Andrew Miller and Zach Miner for A-Rod, we'd be sitting pretty.
2006-10-19 10:22:14
71.   Sliced Bread
59 Since you asked:

- No, Sheff is gone. Not because they can't afford him, and because he wouldn't be an okay first baseman, but because they're going to go in a different (see younger/cheaper) direction.

- Moose's deal will be re-worked to the tune of something like 2-years - 20 mill. total. He will end his career as a Yankee and go to the Hall of Fame.

- Yes, we should have Melky in center, and we will, but Damon is stilll the starter.

- Giambi will be the primary DH, and somebody new will play first.

- Doesn't RJ only have one more year on his contract? Either way, as long as he's on the team, he's a 4/5 starter.

- I'd let Wright go. Nothing against him, I appreciate his effort, but his brand of mediocrity can be attained for a fraction of the cost.

- Hughes will come up when he's ready, and not a moment sooner. End of next year is not out of the question, but wouldn't count on it.

- I think they should look for Posada's replacement, and try to work a deal for him this winter. That would be among my top priorities if I was Cashman.

- Damon's "LOWEST OBP" is still good enough. He's the leadoff man again next year.
If A-Rod can bat 8th, you'd think Damon could bat 9th, but that won't happen next year. And because I said it definitely won't, it probably might(how's that for hedging your bet?).

- Yes, Miggy is a Yankee next year. 4th outfielder, who will get plenty of work as Matsui, Damon, and Abreu will get regular rest, DHing when Giambi's playing first.

- With Sheff gone, paying Matsuzaka won't kill the Yanks. There's always Yankees money for a guy who projects to be an ace or number 2 starter. 60 mill for 4 years seems worth the risk, but not more than that.

-NO Zito. You didn't ask. Just sayin.

- You didn't ask about Bernie either, but I think he might finally hang it up this winter. Or he'll be back for one more as Joe's mascot/pinch-hitter.

-WHAT ABOUT A-ROD, you ask? He's our third baseman - bats 4th or 6th.

-Yes, this is still a Yankees blog, yes!

2006-10-19 10:30:06
72.   Chyll Will
71 "NO Zito. You didn't ask. Just sayin... Yes, this is still a Yankees blog, yes!"

That was too easy >;)

2006-10-19 10:36:31
73.   Sliced Bread
72 Yeah, try as I might to jam from the foul line, or drain one from 30 feet out, I take a lot of lay-ups, and sometimes they go in.
2006-10-19 10:39:20
74.   pistolpete
73 That wasn't a lay-up, that was you standing above the basket on a ladder, and dropping the ball in.
2006-10-19 10:40:08
75.   Shaun P
55 Rob Gee, is that you? ;)

Just kidding, YFiM - I was just recalling Rob Gee's OPP rants from last offseason.

Pitchers aren't bad because they are "second-hand". But many of the guys you identified are (1) on the wrong side of 32 (Pedro, Lieber, Pettitte) and/or (2) shown significant signs of injury and/oror decline (all of them). If a team is going to sign a free agent pitcher older than 32, he better be in great shape and very consistent. Otherwise its a waste of time.

56 Then you would be in favor of trading, say, Jeter, if the right offer came along? Since off-field marketing stuff shouldn't matter.

That said, I don't think the Yanks' trades for Unit and A-Rod and signing "sluggers" (by which I presume you mean Sheff, Godzilla, and Giambi) had anything to do with marketing goals, beyond the fact that a winning team puts butts in seats. To say that what those hitters contribute is just the long ball complete ignores that all 4 are all-around good players who have many skills besides hitting home runs. Like the excellent skill of getting on base a ton. And that Randy Johnson is a Hall of Famer, who, as Sliced pointed in 51, one could reasonably have expected to pitch very well. Particularing in a pitchers' park that tends to favor lefties.

2006-10-19 10:42:33
76.   RIYank
71 "Yes, Miggy is a Yankee next year. 4th outfielder..."

Miggy /= Melky

(I do that all the time.)

56 Weeping:
"For instance, I often hear about how Hideki's popularity in Japan, and thus the Yankees' ability to cash in on his celebrity, is one factor in keeping him on the club.
In my view, this is a travesty. No one should be on the club because of off-field market value."

No, that's not what's going on. Rather: Hideki's popularity in Japan is what makes his salary so high. He's not as good a player as some other $13M LFer, but he's better than a $7M LFer and his net cost to the Yankees is more like $7. (Yes, I'm just pulling the numbers out of my nose, but that's the general idea.)

New thread open, by the way.

2006-10-19 10:43:02
77.   JL25and3
67 They're from Weaver On Strategy, a great little book. It was published in 1984, but he'd been managing that way for years. Since then, sabermetricians have come up with most of the same answers. (These shoudld read Weaver's First Law etc., but I'll just number them for the blog's sake.)

1. No one's going to give a damn in July if you lose a game in March.

2. If you don't make any promises to your players you won't have to break them.

3. The easiest way around the bases is with one swing of the bat.

4. Your most precious possessions on offense are your 27 outs.

5. If you play for one run, that's all you'll get.

6. Don't play for one run unless you know that run will win a ballgame.

7. It's easier to find four good starters than five.

8. The best place for a rookie pitcher is in long relief.

9. The key step for an infielder is the first one - left or right - but before the ball is hit.

10. The job of arguing with an umpire belongs to the manager, because it won't hurt the team if he gets thrown out of the game.

2006-10-19 10:43:25
78.   bp1
71 I agree with just about everything you say there, Sliced.

Call me a glass half full sorta guy, but I still am holding out hope that the Yankees will get some value for the $10mil they are going to pay Carl Pavano next year. All jokes aside, the guy was better than Jaret Wright when he was healthy.

It will be very interesting to see how Unit comes back from his surgery. Guys his (my) age don't heal as quickly or as completely as he (we) did when he (we) were kids. It could very well be he has pitched his last game in MLB. Not saying that is likely or even desired, but it is possible.

When has the last winter gone by where the Yankees did not make a big splash aquisition? Exactly. The Yankees are going to go deep for that young Japanese pitcher. I see an '07 rotation of

Matsuzaka
Wang
Moose
Pavano
Unit (or not)

After saying "Just Say No to Damon" for most of last hot stove season, I'm gonna stay mum on this Zito thing. Damon was a pleasant surprise, and it's not impossible that Zito would be as well.

2006-10-19 10:50:57
79.   Shaun P
Someone above, I forget who, also said they didn't think Vazquez and Weaver got enough of a chance in pinstripes. I agree on Vazquez, though his results since being traded show it wasn't "pitching in NYC" that was the problem. It really is a shame he fell apart like he did. And the difference between the leagues in '02/'03 was not as great as it is now, so I don't think you can point to that as the source of Javy's problems.

Weaver, on the other hand, was given more than enough of a chance. The swearing into his glove and all that other crap made it pretty clear he didn't belong. And again, his results since leaving the Yanks strongly suggest that "pitching in NYC" wasn't his problem. BTW, don't be fooled by his overall OK numbers as a Dodger - take a look at his home/road splits.

2006-10-19 10:55:40
80.   Sliced Bread
74 3 points for pistolpete.

76 Oops. re: Miggy - what I said about Wright applies to Miggy.

78 Funny, I was exactly the same about Damon last winter, and you're right, signing Zito might not signal the end of all that is good in the world. My resistance to Zito has a lot to do with Boras the Spider. Can't we have a Borasless winter in the Bronx?

2006-10-19 10:57:02
81.   brockdc
1. Sign Mussina to a 1 or 2-year, incentive-laden deal

3. Let Wright Walk

4. DON'T SIGN ZITO

5. Offer Sheff arbitration, then let him walk (1st Round draft pick - cha-ching!)

6. Keep A-Rod

7. Trade Matsui for a starter, possibly Ervin Santana (Mats is one-dimensional and redundant with Melky and Gardner in the mix)

8. Give Kevin Thompson and Gardner a legit chance of making the opening day roster

9. Let Cairo walk

10. Let Villone walk

11. Sign gyro

12. Sign a real backup catcher, even if he's slightly overpriced

13. Opening weekend, Bernie Williams day at the stadium - thanks for the memories, we love ya, Bern!

Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you the 2007 New York Yankees:

Starting rotation:

Matsuzaka
Wang
Mussina
Rasner
Unit

Lineup:

Damon CF
Jeter SS
Abreu RF
Giambi DH
A-Rod 3B
Posada C
Cano 2b
Guile 1b
Melky LF

BENCH

Gardner OF
Thompson OF
Phillips IF
Andy C IF

BULLPEN

Proctor
Bruney
Farnsworth
Mo
Karstens
Myers

2006-10-19 10:59:22
82.   brockdc
81 I forgot a backup catcher for the bench. Any ideas?
2006-10-19 11:01:45
83.   brockdc
81 Also, replace Rasner with Ervin Santana, and replace Karstens with Rasner. Dammit.
2006-10-19 11:09:32
84.   pistolpete
I'm confused about Wright's status - is he signed through 2007 or is it an option year?

Cot's has him listed as follows:

2007 becomes a player option if Wright is not on the disabled list for 75 days or more with a pitching-related shoulder injury 05-06

2007 becomes a club option with a $4M buyout if Wright is on the disabled list for more than 75 days with a pitching-related shoulder injury 05-06

So did he? Spend enough time on the DL, that is?

2006-10-19 11:12:30
85.   mehmattski
80 As a basketball nerd, I must point out that pistolpete must have earned his three points the hard way, through the bucket and a foul. This is because there was no three point line when Pistol Pete dominated college basketball.

81 I agree with many of your moves. One quibble: you remove Matsui from your lineup but fail to replace him on the roster with the pitcher we supposedly receive. Unfortunately I don't see how you can trade Matsui when you're bringing in Matsuzaka. If Torre sticks to it, Revolving Melky could work out.

Also, it's probably possible to find a better option than Andy Canizzaro as a utility man. Finally, I think it's a pipe dream to think that BOTH Karstens and Rasner are able to perform consistently. But I think you can plug Hughes into the long reliever role, just like the Twins did with Liriano.

2006-10-19 11:12:31
86.   mehmattski
80 As a basketball nerd, I must point out that pistolpete must have earned his three points the hard way, through the bucket and a foul. This is because there was no three point line when Pistol Pete dominated college basketball.

81 I agree with many of your moves. One quibble: you remove Matsui from your lineup but fail to replace him on the roster with the pitcher we supposedly receive. Unfortunately I don't see how you can trade Matsui when you're bringing in Matsuzaka. If Torre sticks to it, Revolving Melky could work out.

Also, it's probably possible to find a better option than Andy Canizzaro as a utility man. Finally, I think it's a pipe dream to think that BOTH Karstens and Rasner are able to perform consistently. But I think you can plug Hughes into the long reliever role, just like the Twins did with Liriano.

2006-10-19 11:12:57
87.   pistolpete
Go here, and select 'Catcher' as the position you wish to filter the results by:

http://www.mlb4u.com/freeagency.php

Sad thing there's no one under 30 available. Barajas might be an okay option at 31, just to bridge a gap.

2006-10-19 11:13:20
88.   mehmattski
Dammit, sorry about the double post... I hadn't even finished yet:

As for backup catcher, I hear that Joe Girardi is available...

2006-10-19 11:14:57
89.   Shaun P
84 Yep. Its a club option, and I bet the Yanks pick it up. Why not? He stunk in Game 4, but he wasn't a bad 5th starter for most of the year. If he loses his rotation spot, he might be worthwhile out of the pen.
2006-10-19 11:16:04
90.   JL25and3
79 Another big difference: Vazquez was really good for half a season.

Pre-All-Star break: 10-5, 3.56
Post-All-Star break: 4-5, 6.92

Weaver just sucked.

2006-10-19 11:22:15
91.   JL25and3
81 I really don't like the idea of offering Sheffield arbitration if you don't want to keep him. And it's not because of my Sheffield thing, I just think it's bad business.

I have a feeling that Sheffield won't get a lot of offers with big, multi-year guarantees. They'll be for a low base salary with lots of incentives, like Frank Thomas. At that point Sheffield might just decide to take his chances with arbitration - he's almost certain to get a bigger guarantee.

Obviously, you can't predict with too much certainty what Sheffield's going to do. that's the mystique of him.

2006-10-19 11:28:06
92.   Chyll Will
91 And that's the foul line for you, my friend >;)
2006-10-19 11:33:47
93.   YankeeInMichigan
79 According to Will Carrol, the "writing on the wall" for Vazquez was the number of innings that he pitched at a young age. That's why I am urging caution with Hughes (though the temptation to throw him into a front-end role will be great).

70 I agree with you. That perfect A-Rod trade (for young stud starter + league-average third baseman) probably won't happen, and Pavano probably won't pitch another 2004-quality full season. Other replacement options, such as Zito and Matsuzaka are expensive and risky. So unless a 27-year old in Scranton suddenly puts it all together (a la Guidry in 1977), we may be in for a couple more not-quite seasons.

64 68 Cone/Wells/Duque/Clemens was a bit of an aberation. All were fairly low-risk in terms of expectations and all went on to exceed those expectations. It's going to be real tough to repeat that model.

I just took at a peak at the 1976-1978 stats to see how the Yanks complemented Guidry with a cast of imports. The blue chip then was Figueroa, whom they acquired as a young starter along with Micky Rivers for Bobby Bonds, and who went on to have 3 strong seasons before fading. No other import (Ellis, Torrez, Gullett, Hunter, Holtzman, Messersmith) contributed significantly for more than a season. Granted, Gullett joined Gator and Figgy in forming a lights-out front 3 in '77, but after that he was 8 games and out.

2006-10-19 11:34:02
94.   Bama Yankee
85 & 86 Good point about Maravich and the three point line, mehmattski. All someone has to do to break Pistol Pete's all time college scoring record is to average 15 three pointers per game for their entire career (talk about a record that will be hard to break).
2006-10-19 11:36:14
95.   YankeeInMichigan
89 Another option would be to decline Wright's buyout and then eat those same $4 million while trading him.
2006-10-19 11:37:34
96.   Bama Yankee
So, we've acquired several young quality starters who did not pan out and thus we gave up on them only to see them pitch well for other teams. We have also acquired older quality starters who have not lived up to expectations based on prior stats.

I realize that pitching in New York adds pressure, but some of these guys have performed well in the postseason for other teams in pressure situations.

Could part of our problem be the pitching coach? Dave Duncan seems to have helped Jeff Weaver and Don Cooper helped Jose Contreras. Jaret Wright certainly was better under Leo Mazzone.

I realize that we are talking about major league pitchers who should know how to pitch to big league hitters, but if we can give credit to Tona Pena for helping Jorge Posada and Don Mattingly for helping Jason Giambi why can we say that some of our pitching woes could be due to our pitching coaches? I love Ron Guidry, but can he go out to the mound during a crucial situation and help a pitcher that way a veteran pitching coach can (or even the way Jim Leyland has done in the playoffs this year)? Just a thought…

2006-10-19 12:12:31
97.   pistolpete
96 I wish we'd gone harder after Mazzone, but his mind was probably made up to go and work with Perlazzo.

Shame, because Perlazzo's probably out if they finish 4th again in '07.

2006-10-19 12:25:06
98.   JL25and3
96 I heard Torre on the radio right after they hired Guidry last year. If I understood correctly, Gator's main qualification for the job was having a belly full of guts.
2006-10-19 12:55:26
99.   weeping for brunnhilde
69 You mistake me--I'm not arguing that Matsui's popularity/marketability was the decisive factor, just that I often hear it invoked by pundits as a factor.

Whether this is the case or not is not my point--my point is that it shouldn't be a factor at all.

If you can definitively say that marketability is never a factor in the Yankees' acquisitions, great.

I'm just wondering to what extent it might be a factor and suggesting that if it is, it shouldn't be.

The fact that marketability is a factor is speculation on my part; I'm just trying to open up a conversation.

2006-10-19 13:02:09
100.   weeping for brunnhilde
75 No I wouldn't be in favor of trading Jeter because I have tremendous affection for him and because of his on-the-field value.

I'm distinguishing marketing from fan-affection.

The context in which I hear Matsui's name invoked has to do with Matsui being used to promote the development of YES in an Asian market, or something like that.

In other words, hypothetically, it's one thing to retain Jeter, who is a fan favorite, and another to acquire Matsui, on financial speculation.

Do you take my point?

Show/Hide Comments 101-150
2006-10-19 13:13:17
101.   OldYanksFan
81 I like your thinking, but heres my modifications.
1) The Yanks want Matsui. Not just because of the Japanese market, but it's a factor. When you see Japanese and Taiwonese fans waiving banners and shouting their heads off, it's a really good thing for the Yankees fanbase. While Mats isn't s superstar, it could be the best #6 hitter around.
2) Matsui is average coming in, terrible going back. Can he play 1st BASE????
3) Shef makes the same as Mats... $13M. For ONE year, he will bring more in trade. Sign Sheff, trade him, keep Mats, and try Mats at 1st base.
4) Try Melky in CF and Damon in LF.
5) Bring Miggy back. For $1M, he's a decent deal, and has had some VERY clutch hits for us.

84 We CAN buy out Wright for $4M... he was disabled > 75 days. Which means, it REALLY only costs us $3.5M to keep him.

2006-10-19 13:37:53
102.   Shaun P
100 Name the last Yankee LF who started two Opening Days in a row playing LF.

Would you believe Rickey Henderson (1988-89)?

He's also the guy who was the last consistent, good-hitting LF the Yanks had for more than 2 years.

I get your point, I just don't think that Matsui's marketability had anything to do with the Yanks signing him, whatever these 'pundits' say. (Do you mean the traditional media when you say pundits? Because, if you do, I don't trust them at all.) The Yanks had a gigantic hole in LF dating back to when Billy Martin was still alive. Signing Matsui to fill that hole was a no-brainer.

Similarly, I don't think keeping Matsui has anything to do with YES's presence in Asian or whatever, again whatever the pundits say. The reason to not trade Matsui is that it opens that gaping hole back up. I love Melky, but there's no guarantee he fills it as well as 'Zilla has.

2006-10-19 13:54:36
103.   weeping for brunnhilde
102 I love Hideki and I'm glad he's on the team and I don't want him gone.

I was just using the case as a hypothetical to explore a point.

2006-10-19 14:26:05
104.   Chyll Will
99 Sorry, I was away proctoring an exam (which doesn't mean I was giving it until my arm fell off, but it sure felt like it)...

My initial response to this point is something you'll likely hear me say a lot in the coming months: "Yeah, and...so-what?"

But in the interest of interesting banter, I'll say that I agree in principle that marketability should be a non-factor, or at least the least common denominator when considering a player of Matsui's talents. Mind you, Matsui was being marketed to the US as a Japanese Lou Gehrig; a power hitter with a high on-base percentage and a demigod of athletic vurility. His playing streak was sacred to his people and honored to a fault in America. Yet his first year in pinstripes revealed that Matsui was not the power hitter that people expected, but a good contact hitter with pop and an average glove. Had the playing streak not been sacred, it's not impossible to say that Matsui would have been sat a number of times.

The fact that Matsui was so popular in a huge international market should not be the focus of any team's deal; alluded to very nicely in a piece in the Village Voice remarked about in a thread here in August(?) You can see where that type of focus can collapse on itself and turn into an emotional black hole for everyone involved or nearby.

In Matsui's case, it turned him, perhaps briefly, into an ordinary player with a worn novelty, but given his work ethic I have faith he will become important in the relative scheme of things in the Yankees' lineup.

(More on this in a little while...)

2006-10-19 14:40:33
105.   C2Coke
Cliff, great post as always. We missed you.

71 Sliced, you are awesome. I know you were trying to joke but it was funny as always.

78 Did you really say Pavano? really? I think he's gone no matter how well he can perform next year. He lost the respect from his teammates, he lost the trust from the Yankees organization, he even lost the fans' interests in terms of making Pavano jokes.

Regarding Matsui, the Yankees really seem to love him for many reasons. I clearly remember Cashman and Torre's comments about Matsui is all about being a Yankee. I think his work ethic is crucial to the clubhouse.

2006-10-19 14:42:10
106.   C2Coke
105 I meant Sliced weren't trying to joke...
2006-10-19 15:00:48
107.   Chyll Will
104 Hmmm... if the Asian market is a focal point in marketing schemes, how come we aren't seeing more of this type of marketing of Wang and Kuo? That at least has Matsui vs. Ichiro potential. No, I think at least for the Yankees, going after big tickets to market them is secondary at best, not to say it's not a consideration at all. Winning makes marketing easier, or in the Yanks' case, familiarity breeds contempt.

I do wonder though, if the Met's foray into the Asian market has been inspired in some way by the Yankees' cherry-picking. To date, Shinjo, Matsui (beta), Jae So... the first two were colorful but mediocre, the last just mediocre. Did marketing play much into that?

Also consider that the new president of the Cubs operations is direct from marketing. That will be a test case for your question in the coming season.

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