With the sale of the Brewers now complete, George Steinbrenner is officially the senior-ranking owner in baseball. Murray Chass has an appreciation, of sorts, today in the Times:
I thought longevity might prompt Steinbrenner to do an interview for this historic development, as he did seven years ago on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of his purchase. But a request through his publicist, the ubiquitous Howard Rubenstein, elicited no telephone conversation, only remarks delivered through Rubenstein.
...I was, in a way, disappointed that I didn't have the opportunity to speak to George directly. I haven't always enjoyed talking to him; in his talking days, he too often had a forum to make outrageous statements. But now that he infrequently talks to reporters, it would be good to be able to have a chat every now and then - mostly then. But now would have been preferable.
Even baseball people, however, have noticed that Steinbrenner is more invisible than visible these days, more silent than verbose. It's as if the Yankees have constructed a shelter around him. People in baseball talk about it and wonder if he has a health problem that he is hiding.
I've been fixated with what will happen to the Yankees once Steinbrenner passes on--or becomes mentally or physically unable to run the team--for some time now. He's the only Yankee owner I've ever known, and for most of my life I've considered him a bully and a bore. But he's also financed six World Serious winners. Love him or hate him, for better or for worse, we've grown accustomed to his face.
All-Baseball.com's prospect expert, Bryan Smith profiles the best young talent in the country over at Wait Til Next Year. Here is what he has to say about a couple of Yankee hopefuls:
I have never made it a secret of my obsession with Melky Cabrera, dating back to his days with Battle Creek earlier this past season. To me, heís been the Yankees second-best prospect for months, with or without Pudgito. His numbers show the general trend of what happens to a player when he moves up the ladder, but in no way would I call his FSL performance a drop-off. His ISO rose to .150, probably park-related, and really a drop in average was the only poor sign. You have to love a player with a K% (K/AB) under 20, and he was at 13.5 in the Midwest League, and 17.7 in Tampa. Both, for such a young player, to fare this well in full-season ball is quite the accomplishment. Heís a few walks away from being a clone of Bernie Williams at the same age, so that should get all you Bombers fans salivating. Given the problem in centerfield and Duncanís block, I really see no player in this organization thatís more likely to stay with New York other than Cabrera.
For some reason Iíve always had an internal bias with Cano, though one particular Yanks fan that reads this site has made that notion a hard one to keep. Well, so have his numbers. He really showed his dominance over Navarro as a player this year, looking better than Dioner in both Trenton and Columbus. His performance in AAA was far less than dazzling, but even a .144 ISO has to be respected given his youth and his position. While the Yankees signed Tony Womack to a two-year, $4 million deal this winter, they could have done far worse than have handed Cano the job. I donít see his ceiling ever being over an .800 OPS, with a line looking like .280/.340/.420 probably about what type of player he can be. Looking at this position across the league, thatís a commodity that many teams would like to buy.
Bryan does a terrific job. Go check it out.
Jon Weisman and I got some great responses to our pieces last week about baseball cards. As luck would have it, Hank Waddles wrote post about the same subject the day before Jon and I posted ours, over at Broken Cowboy. Worth a look. Lastly, following up on yesterday's entry, be sure and read SG's piece on Jason Giambi over at Replacement Level Yankees blog.