Baseball Toaster Bronx Banter
2004-12-29 13:57
by Alex Belth

It has been another memorable year for us Yankee fans. Am I right? So maybe it wasn't memorable in the way we'd like, but it had more than its fair share of good parts. I just wanted to take a quick moment to thank all of the professional baseball writers out there, particularly those here in New York. As you know, I link to their stuff often. I really admire the job they do. I know this site would be a while lot different if I couldn't excerpt and refer to their work. I'm also thankful for all of the great baseball writing there is to be found on the Internet, most of it done by amateurs like myself. Sometimes the sheer volume of writing is overwhelming, but I just try and share what makes an impression on me with the rest of youse.

Having said that, here are some links'n'things to keep you busy for a minute:

1. Rich Lederer's three latest Bert Blyleven articles (one, two and three) are a must for anyone interested in the Hall of Fame election process.

2. The final 2004 edition of "Rivals in Exile," from Ben Jacobs and Larry Mahnken.

3. Our pal Sully's look at the contracts of seven Red Sox players, including their newly minted captain, Jason Varitek:

This one is gonna hurt. His offense is solid but his defense continues to slip. Varitek right now is the very worst catcher in the American League with respect to throwing out runners. I am willing to accept that he adds something in the clubhouse and that his handling of a pitching staff may even shave a little off of the team ERA. But all of the magical, intangible pixie dust in the world doesnít change the fact that catchers decline quickly and that even in his current form, Varitek is a very good and not great player. His .882 home OPS since 2002 is remarkable but it also appears that a lot of the credit for his success belongs to the cozy dimensions of Fenway Park. His road OPS over the same stretch of .760 isnít quite as impressive and may be more indicative of his true value. By 2007, I think Varitekís contract will be an enormous drain on the team and the $6 or $7 million dollar player we all know and love right now will probably be worth about $2 or $3 million by then while being paid $10 million.

4. What about Tom Verducci's pick for most overrated player of the year, your favorite and mine, Kevin Brown:

Brown won 68 games in the first six years of his seven-year deal while earning $90 million, or about $1.32 million per victory. He hasn't even pitched enough innings to qualify for the ERA title in three of the past four years. He turns 40 in March but -- based on his clubhouse temper tantrum, in which he broke two bones in his non-pitching hand when he punched a wall in the clubhouse, and the disdain with which his own teammates, coaches and training staff regard him -- Brown still hasn't grown up. And his gag-job in Game 7 of the ALCS last year -- after manager Joe Torre repeatedly told Brown not to take the ball if he wasn't fully healthy -- will never be forgotten by the organization, which does not want Brown to throw another pitch in pinstripes.

5. Not to mention Buster Olney's column on the Yankees that was just posted over at ESPN.

6. Lastly, here's a nice tribute to Eddie Layton, from Cliff Corcoran.

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