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2007-01-30 10:14
by Alex Belth
Note: The Bronx Banter blog has moved to bronxbanterblog.com.

While the Todd Helton trade talks have stalled (for now), the Times has one nifty headline.

In other news, Billy Martin's old drinking partner, Art Fowler passed away yesterday. If I get a chance, I'll take a look through my Yankee literature tonight to see if I can find a good Fowler story.

Comments (51)
Show/Hide Comments 1-50
2007-01-30 10:21:50
1.   Murray
Say what you want about Billy Martin--it's probably true--but his pitchers always threw strikes. And Art Fowler was always his pitching coach.
2007-01-30 10:45:43
2.   wsporter
1 Yes I think you're right, they did or they didn't pitch. Unfortunately, those strikes were eventually and ultimately followed by the pitcher's throwing arm from extreme over use. Just ask Langford, Norris, McCatty and Keough. I think each of them is still searching for everything from their shoulders on down.
2007-01-30 10:47:06
3.   dianagramr
1

too bad Billy (and Art?) overused the A's starters in the early 80s .... that was some rotation for a year or two

2007-01-30 11:18:47
4.   rbj
RIP, Art. I wonder how much of his advice the Gator is passing on. It's the manager's responsibility not to over use the arms, but then Billy was always old school. He probably was simply thinking in 1950s terms.
2007-01-30 11:24:34
5.   Shaun P
I wonder what the armless horses of the early 80s A's rotation would say to Bob Feller if they were to meet . . .

I wonder if today Gator uses any lessons from his old pitching coach, when instructing his charges. The old 'throw strikes' thing would be a given, I hope.

2007-01-30 11:34:39
6.   wsporter
3 Hmmm. Now that's scary; less than two minutes apart.
2007-01-30 12:13:24
7.   dianagramr
6

great minds think alike?

2007-01-30 12:20:22
8.   JL25and3
Supposedly Fowler once went out to the mound to talk to a pitcher who was getting rocked. His advice: "I don't know what you're doing out here, but whatever it is, it's sure pissing Billy off."
2007-01-30 12:30:24
9.   wsporter
7 As Bill White would have said "... That's deep to right,.... Gone!"
2007-01-30 13:04:24
10.   joejoejoe
Here's a story on Art Fowler from his local paper, the Spartanburg (SC) Herald-Tribune:

"Local legend John Arthur "Art" Fowler, 84, died Monday morning in the same place his magnificent career began, in Spartanburg.

Fowler, married for more than 66 years to Ruth Birch Fowler and father to sons John and Ray and daughter Cheryl, succumbed to blood cancer and Alzheimer's disease at his home.
. . .
While the Fowler's home featured a sign outside with all the stops on his major league career path, the license plate on his car read NYY42&1 -- signifying his and Martin's uniform numbers in New York."

Read the whole thing. It's a nice tribute.

http://tinyurl.com/ypnrco (Spartanburg Herald-Tribune)

2007-01-30 13:14:08
11.   JL25and3
It wasn't just that 1980-81 A's staff. Wherever Billy and Fowler went, they piled tons of innings on a few pitchers. Some guys could handle it, especially if they were already established veterans: Mickey Lolich and Jim Perry and Fergie Jenkins weren't hurt by it, and Kaat swears by it. But it could be death on younger guys. Dick Bosman, Ed Figueroa and the A's never recovered; Joe Coleman gave out a year or two later, before he turned 30; and Jim Bibby spent the rest of his career bouncing back from arm injuries (occasionally with success).

But I have to give them credit for one thing. Consider these two pitchers:

Pitcher A: 84-25 (.771), 3.06
Pitcher B: 86-66 (.566), 3.45

A is Guidry pitching for Billy Martin; B is Guidry pitching for anyone else. Look at Guidry's career - those spikes in 1983 and 1985 are Billy.

2007-01-30 13:25:11
12.   Shaun P
10 Thanks for the link. I had no idea Fowler and Wayne Tolleson were related. There's another blast from the past.
2007-01-30 19:16:08
13.   markp
I used to agree with the overuse idea, but then I read something somebody (I think Bill James before he jumped the shark) put together about that.
The article gave the methods the author used to determine if he did overuse his pitchers, call for too many breaking pitches, etc. He was surprised by the result since he was mostly trying to verify it and ended up disproving it. I can't remember the particulars, but they were pretty compelling. One thing I do remember is the faulty delivery Norris (and maybe one of the other starters?) had, and how it was generally accepted before Billy arrived in Oak that he'd very likely have arm problems at some point.
The thing about Billy and Art is, wherever they went, the teams immediately got better. A lot better. Since few really successful managers manage to PO their employers like he did, it's impossible to find anyone else who moved from team to team like he did, but the results are very impressive. Just look at what the team did the year before he arrived and then what it did after. It's pretty amazing stuff.
2007-01-30 19:30:59
14.   Bruce Markusen
Here are a couple of notes and quotes associated with Art Fowler.

*To the surprise of no one who knew him well, Fowler hated physical conditioning, particularly running. "If running is so important, Jesse Owens would be a twenty-game winner," Fowler told a reporter in 1957. "And the only reason I don't like to run is that it makes me tired."

*Known for his off-the-field visits to bars, Fowler developed a well-deserved reputation for enjoying cocktails of various sorts. During his years as the Tigers' pitching coach, Fowler became good friends with first baseman Norm Cash. Sharing a similar sense of humor, the pitching coach and first baseman spent hours together away from the ballpark, especially at local taverns. They were sometimes joined by Martin, who was no stranger to the drinking scene himself.

*Because of his relationship with Martin, Fowler became a controversial figure. This is perhaps best illustrated by a 2003 feature that ESPN produced on former rookie sensation David Clyde, who had made his debut for the Rangers 30 years earlier under the watchful eye of both Martin and Fowler. Martin didn't like the left-hander, in part because he didn't like pitchers and didn't like rookies, two mortal sins committed by Clyde. During one interview segment on ESPN, Fowler supported Martin's general evaluation of Clyde, claiming that the youngster was vastly overrated, unable to throw his fastball much harder than in the mid-eighties. Fowler also trashed the quality of Clyde's competition in high school, kiddingly suggesting that the left-hander had piled up an impressive set of statistics pitching against "girls."

Art was one of a kind.

2007-01-31 03:40:52
15.   Jim Dean
Nice sober assessment from Goldman's newest bible:

As for the Yankees, they would actually reap more of a benefit from adding Helton, though the contract is still a major deterrent. It's not really Helton the Yankees need to add, it's anyone. As the predictions above suggest, their attack isn't so dominant that they can afford to give away offense at any position. Given one or more significant injuries, and the shortfall at first base will not only hamper them, it will stop the offense cold.

2007-01-31 05:49:15
16.   Sliced Bread
15 "Given one or more significant injuries"... Cash's plan to strictly DH Giambi will go out the window.

Unless one of our first basemen has made a Kenny Rogers type deal with the devil, I predict we'll see a lot of Giambi at first in '07, a lot more than Cashman would like to see.

Goldman is always a great read, but his stuff has been remarkably insightful and interesting lately.

I agree wholeheartedly with his assessment that LOOGY Myers is a waste of roster space. I infer he thinks the same of Doug Out.

2007-01-31 05:51:39
17.   mikeplugh
15 Hey Jim.

I'm sorry, but that Goldman bit has to be one of the most ludicrous and ill-conceived points of analysis I've seen in some time.

"Given one or more significant injuries, and the shortfall at first base will not only hamper [insert team name here], it will stop the offense cold."

Please name one team in the sport that given one or more significant injuries would fare better than the Yankees. It's silly. Yes, I hate Mister Mxyzptlk at first, but does he actually merit that kind of doomsday thinking? If the Yankees suffer one or more significant injuries they have a lot more to worry about than 1st base. By that logic they should go out and get Helton, Miguel Tejada, and Barry Bonds just in case Giambi is decapitated in a horrible French Revolution renactment gone wrong, Jeter contracts the rare syphilitic Pingo virus from a Caligulan weekend at the Playboy mansion, and Matsui is buried alive in a pornographic magazine warehouse accident.

If the Yankees offense scores less than 6 runs a game this season I will wear an I Love Big Papi t-shirt in the bleachers. Barring a catastrophic multiple lightning strike third inning in which Robby Cano is hit 4 times in rapid succession making him look like Daffy Duck after Elmer Fudd blasts him in the face with a shotgun at point blank range. Then they might only muster 5.5 runs per.

I just can't fathom why a team that sported the best record in the sport despite missing Sheffield and Matsui most of the year, and featuring a 1000 year old Randy Johnson every 5th day at the front of the rotation should garner so much doom and gloom after doing some very nice things in the offseason.

2007-01-31 05:54:52
18.   Jim Dean
17 I'll respond at your place. Folks here would rather avoid the discussion, me thinks.
2007-01-31 06:03:11
19.   Sliced Bread
17 How is Goldman being lucacris, Mike?

He's not suggesting the sky is falling. Sure, he calls the first base situation an "unmitigated disaster" in the making, but I think he hit the mark with this:

"None of this is to say that the Yankees will have a bad offense. Their starting lineup, if healthy, should stack up with that of almost any team. It should also, in a global sense, keep up with the Red Sox; with the exception of first base, the Yankees aren't significantly far behind the Red Sox at any position, and will dominate them at second, short, and third."

2007-01-31 06:05:12
20.   Sliced Bread
19 Inadvertent tip of the cap to Luda there.
2007-01-31 06:10:08
21.   mikeplugh
19 Yeah that's true, but to even say that the Yankees offense will stop cold if they suffer multiple injuries is writing in the type of hyperbole that borders on ridiculous.

I just don't get why there's any reason to shit on the parade before Spring Training even starts. There is absolutely nothing wrong with the Yankees on January 31st, 2007. Any weak points pale in comparison to every other team in the sport. The things we like to bounce around that get stuck in our craw as Yankee fans are so beyond the scope of anything being discussed in any other market.

There are dozens of teams worried about having two decent, league average, starters coming out of Spring Training and plenty of teams wonder if anyone will step up to hit in the 5, 6, 7, 8, and 9 holes in their lineup. We're worried about the possibility that A-Rod is going to get sprayed in the eyes with battery acid, who will play 30 games at back up catcher, and whether the top pitching prospect in the sport will be able to crack our rotation at some point in the year.

2007-01-31 06:17:36
22.   Shaun P
16 Steven Goldman is right, as he usually is. But, there are two small quibbles I have with his analysis here.

The first is his line "Given one or more significant injuries, and the shortfall at first base will not only hamper them, it will stop the offense cold". This applies to every team (though not every team has a shortfall at 1B; some have it at 3B, or C, or 2B, etc.). The Sox with Cora instead of Pedroia, and without Manny and Ortiz, just for example, are a totally different offense.

My other quibble is with using MLVr. I know why he did - it looks just at offense, and because its a rate stat, it doesn't adjust for playing time (or league and park affects). If everyone stays healthly, yes, the projected Red Sox offense has a better projection than the projected Yankees offense.

But this is making a huge assumption - that everyone will stay healthy. Drew, for example, is projected by PECOTA to have only 485 PAs (shocking!), while Abreu is projected for 570. Thus, Abreu has a higher projected VORP and SuperVORP (takes defense, park, and league into account), despite Drew having the better projected MLVr. I'd bet if you took playing time and defense into account, the missile gap would look different.

2007-01-31 06:20:54
23.   Shaun P
So, I guess I agree with you Mike 17. Steven has that same type of paranoia regarding offense at 1B that I think Jim does. I understand it - a team ought to have a first baseman that can actually hit - but if there's any place that can easily be upgraded on offense as the season goes on, its first base. It is a potential land mine? Sure, but that doesn't mean it will be. Let's see how things pan out first.
2007-01-31 06:23:42
24.   mikeplugh
Plus, I don't care what PECOTA says, you can't tell me that comparing the two teams that Varitek will be better than Posada. The Red Sox may be better than the Yankees in the end, but going into the season, what lineup do you actually feel more comfortable with?

Pedroia, Lowell, Varitek, Crisp, and the perpetually injured J.D. Drew....

...or Cano, A-Rod, Posada, Damon, and Abreu?

The Yankees have one single question mark. Mientkiewicz. Other than him, which regular player is a question mark? I just named 5 gigantic Riddler-esque question marks for the Sox. Not to mention that the Red Sox minor league system looks pretty week compared to ours right now. If a move needs to be made to get the edge in the end, we have both the MLB-ready prospects, and the trading chips to make any deal we want.

Johan Santana available? Who can make the best package? Red Sox or Yankees? It's a no-brainer. As I said, there is room to argue that the Sox are a better team, but at this point the arguments are not without major question marks that seem almost to huge to bother dealing with.

2007-01-31 06:25:37
25.   mikeplugh
23 What's the easiest position in baseball to acquire a power hitter? 1st base. If we end up coughing up a lead to the Red Sox as a result of Mr. M at 1st, I guarantee Cashman will have Helton in the Bronx on the express.

It's not even worth worrying about in January.

2007-01-31 06:26:52
26.   Sliced Bread
21 True, true.

The Yankees hardly have "problems" worth discussing, but you know...

and I think Goldman, aside from throwing out hyperbole from time to time, provides great analysis of the Yanks "problems" - and doesn't tend to poop on the pinstriped parade.

2007-01-31 06:28:55
27.   Jim Dean
22 The Sox have a better bench.

But I agree with Mike 24.

2007-01-31 06:30:05
28.   Jim Dean
25 Unless the Rox are in contention. Same goes for the Rangers and M's.
2007-01-31 06:32:50
29.   Jim Dean
25 Otherwise 28 it's Dunn (a big no thanks - homers are nice and all but I want situational hitting) and who else? Give me names - I can't think of any. And I think it would be a mistake to acquire a prospect or Wilson type mid-season because of the Torre tendencies.
2007-01-31 06:40:01
30.   Shaun P
24 27 I agree too - though PECOTA doesn't say Varitek will be better than Posada. When you look at projected defense and playing time, Posada's PA, VORP, and SuperVORP beat Varitek's across the board: 480/20.4/22.4 405/15.5/17.4.

And on the bench - say Todd Pratt manages to make the team as the BUC. He does fit all of Torre's criteria. Pratt's projected MLVr (admittedly with the Braves) is -.159, better than Mirabelli's -.190. The difference between Cairo and Cora is -.005, also known as miniscule. Finally, Wily Mo has power, but Melky has patience and superior defense. I'm not convinced the bench missile gap is that wide.

2007-01-31 06:47:13
31.   mikeplugh
Helton
Texeira
Sexson
Nick Johnson

There are a lot of "fill-in" guys too. Personally, in case of emergency break "Nick Johnson" glass seems like a good idea to me.

2007-01-31 06:48:31
32.   Sliced Bread
30 Good stuff, Shaun P.

There isn't a stat out there that would make me take Boston's Cap'n Cheapshot over Jorge. Nevah. Evah.

Who's bench is better? Whatevs. That'll all come out in the warsh.

2007-01-31 06:51:35
33.   Sliced Bread
31 Yeah, that's who I keep thinking I'd like to see at first.

Go get him Cash, and to a lesser degree of urgency, see if you can get Navarro back, too, while you're at it.

2007-01-31 06:58:03
34.   OldYanksFan
If you think Goldman's analysis is good, keep in mind:
"It's not really Helton the Yankees need to add, it's anyone."
Meaning... 1B is the hole-in-our-lineup My God... Epiphany!). He is not suggesting filling that hole with a questionable, injured, 34 year old, overly expensive, 5 year contrcat, declining player.

Trivia Questions:
1) When is the last year the Yankees did NOT pick up mid-year players?
2) Have mid-year pickups in the past helped the team and made it better?
3) Are there ANY quality SPs or 1Bs that might be available mid-season.

Some statements, while very true, are plain stupid to try and prove a point with. Many years ago, you could have said "If Michael Jordon gets injured, the Chicago Bulls will be significantly worse off" (Epiphany!).
Does that mean it's a bad idea to have Jordan on your basketball team?

Any team that puts a fortune and gets many impact players for their starting lineup, is probably by definition, going to put less into their bench. Furthermore, the difference between a star player and his bench replacement will ALWAYS be a bigger drop off then between an average player and his bench replacement. So? What's this mean? Avoid star players? Get some more stars for your bench? Bench players on the Yankees, barring injury, see little playing time. Does this fact motivate borderline starter/bench players to sign with the Yankees?

Miggy was resigned, NOT because he's particularly good, but because he's a known commodity. He is HAPPY with his role. He has callouses on his ass. He can play, if necessary, 4+ positions. He has better career SB/CS stats then Jetes or ARod. His RISP numbers are better then his non-RISP numbers. He's ready for a Dave Roberts moment.

Every position counts. Absolutely. But the reality is, this team (and most teams) will live and die with it's Pitching. And if we make the PS? Pitching. The primary reason for 1996-2000 contrasting with 2002-2006? Pitching.

So.... when Cashman reads this blog every evening, and we REALLY want to show him that we indeed are smarter then he is, let's stops beating the dead horses of 1B, UIF and BUC (of which mid-season pickups might render moot anyway) and figure out which of Jim Deans 47 useless RH RPs we can trade for which SP.

Forgive Cashman for not rearranging the furniture on the Titanic.

Totally of the Wall Dept:
Ray Durham, 2B, SFO, 5'8, 190lbs. This guy had a career OPS of .790 until last year.
Last year, he had a .900 OPS
PECOTA projects .304/.373/.500 for 2007.
Is this guy just a hidden talent? I know you don't need to be BIG to post big OPS...
but 5'8"? Is something fishy here?

2007-01-31 06:59:43
35.   mikeplugh
33 I once saw Nick Johnson on the street in Manhattan. He looks like just any poor slob you'd run into waiting in line for a slice at Joe's Pizza at 2am. He was wearing a grey t-shirt and jeans and kind of lumbered/mosied down the street. I can't help but think how much better I'd feel with him out there everyday instead of Mientkiewicz. I just like Nick (and his .400 OBP).
2007-01-31 07:00:39
36.   Jim Dean
31 I love the idea of Nick but he just signed a new contract. Maybe if Duncan shows something. Still in that case I can't imagine the Yanks trading him.

Otherwise, there's a decent chance that all will either not be available or the prices will be too high (like CF in 2005). We shall see.

Go baseball!

2007-01-31 07:06:18
37.   mikeplugh
Signing a new contract in Washington means nothing to me. They are a dead end team that needs desperately to start over with as many young players as possible. If the Yanks called about Johnson, and dangled Andre Iguodala, Johnny Blaze, and Mary Poppins you'd have to think the Nats would jump.

(The prospects in this post in no way reflect real Major League value. Permission to use real prospects names is forbidden without the expressed written consent of the New York Yankees and Major League Baseball.)

2007-01-31 07:07:31
38.   mikeplugh
Gotta go to bed. This "Japan Time" thing is killing me. Must...reach...

...futon...eyes...

...getting....drowsy....

2007-01-31 07:29:15
39.   jakewoods
If the Yanks need any kind of offensive help during the season, 1B is the easiest position to go out and get and not give up anything of value for.

the 9th place hitter never cost a team 95 wins.

2007-01-31 08:08:20
40.   Yankee Fan In Boston
re: comparisons between yankees and sox
there's been a position by position comparison, discussion of rotations and each team's bench...

but the yankee bullpen (and the extra arms at AAA) appears to be worlds better than boston's. (piniero as closer? ha!)

over the course of the season, bullpens win more games than a bench.

...just something to keep in mind.

2007-01-31 08:16:41
41.   RIYank
I don't believe Ca$hman will get Helton as a mid-season acquisition, because Helton has a no-trade clause and doesn't want to move to the Bronx. I think the idea of trading for Texeira in June is intriguing. His contract is up at the end of the season, so if the Rangers are out of contention early it would make very good sense to let him go at a price that might seem very low on its face. I doubt this will happen, but in a rational world it really could.

I'll go way out on a limb and say that jakewoods is correct that the ninth place hitter never cost a team 95 wins. I mean, damn, I just can't see the Yanks going 3 and 159 because of Doug Krzyewski.

2007-01-31 08:30:50
42.   Shaun P
37 Mike, I think you're on to something in your sleepy state. Realistically, when are the Nats going to be able to really compete - 2009 at the earliest? More like 2010 (or later). In other words, Nick Johnson probably won't be around for those days (his deal ends in '09).

What do the Nats desperately need rightthissecondnow? Why, young, major league ready or almost major league ready starting pitching. Hmmm . . . I wonder what team could possibly have an excess of that?

2007-01-31 08:35:43
43.   DarrenF
I just purchased tickets for three Yankee games for the 2007 season. I'm finding it exceedingly difficult to purchase tickets conventionally, through Ticketmaster or the box office. Most of the tickets are already sold through season tickets, group plans, or these ticket "brokers" aka scalplers. In fact, the Yankees gave these "brokers" an exclusive day or two to get all the tickets they could get. That's my understanding of what occurred this week. As for me? I'm going to the LF bleachers with the Con Ed kids!
2007-01-31 09:01:47
44.   Jim Dean
41 Folks are reading too much into it. The reports were the teams he would consider, not those he wouldn't. Further, who has ever wanted to go into the Beantown Snakepit but not the Bronx Zoo?

42 Keep in mind that Nick is still recovering and the last report is that he'll miss the first month as he's still limping around. But if he proves he's healthy to play the field, he is only owed 10 million over the next two years. He's certainly as good as any other option. I didn't like the Giambi signing because I thought Nick could handle the job.

Man, that trade certainly didn't help the Yanks much. Unit was even worse. Between Nick, Rivera, and Navarro the Yanks would be sitting pretty right now. And to realize that the Yanks got exactly one post-season win from the two of them - Vazquez in Game 3 of the 2004 ALCS in relief of Brown's stinker.

2007-01-31 09:18:45
45.   RIYank
Boston Herald (via David Pinto):

http://tinyurl.com/2eu6yr

Yankees outfielder Melky Cabrera will skip the Caribbean World Series at the team's request so he can rest up for next season... "We've asked that he shut it down at this point. It's been a long year for him," Newman said Tuesday on a conference call to discuss the team's top prospects. "We thought he needed some rest."
---------------------------------------

Interesting. This presumably means they expect Melk Man to get a lot of AB during the regular season, right?

2007-01-31 09:34:32
46.   bp1
45 Or they are pulling him out of games in advance of a trade?
2007-01-31 09:38:39
47.   Zack
CHeck out LoHud's latest post on minor league matters. THis tidbit is nice:
Jesus Montero, the kid catcher from Venezuela, has "light tower" power and will get a chance to start in the Gulf Coast League instead of the Dominican Summer League. Newman said the Yankees have never had a Latin prospect with as much power. He also praised his work ethic and intelligence.

So much for all those rumors swirling...

2007-01-31 09:42:25
48.   Zack
Oh, and Heyman has an articel up on si.com saying Bernie has been invited to Spring Training to try and make the team.

Yuck.

Bernie on the team, even at the expense of the unneeded 12th pitcher, means less time for Melky, which should be illegal...

http://tinyurl.com/2n6584

2007-01-31 09:44:26
49.   Jim Dean
46 + 48 = me shitting myself.
2007-01-31 09:44:33
50.   OldYanksFan
Melky may be 'trade bait' in that he may be one of the very few MLB guys we have that we CAN trade and might be willing to trade.

But while Melky is young and cheap, his numbers and 'projected talent' aren't that great. He is certainly not perceived as a difference maker. Considering we are stacked with talented, young RH pitchers and that there aren't that many trades we need to make, I'm gonna guess that Melky is on the team throughout 2007.

Show/Hide Comments 51-100
2007-01-31 12:15:15
51.   jakewoods
The Nats wouldnt trade Soriano for good minor leaguers. What makes u think they'd trade Johnson for anything other than Jose Tabata, Hughes and Jeters sperm? Bowden is nuts.

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