Mariano Rivera is exactly one week older than me, and I'm not sure what's more troubling; the thought that my own 39-year-old body is so damned decrepit, or that his age-defiance can't last forever. A few months ago we took some time here to talk about Mo's beautiful delivery. Over on Bronx Banter, Alex Belth, Andrew McCarron and I chat some more about the Great One who wears 42 for the Yanks.
Sunday, November 30th, 2008
From today's Times:
In health-conscious, sports-oriented Boulder, Atlas Sports Genetics is playing into the obsessions of parents by offering a $149 test that
aims to predict a child’s natural athletic strengths. The process is
simple. Swab inside the child’s cheek and along the gums to collect DNA
and return it to a lab for analysis of ACTN3, one gene among more than
20,000 in the human genome.
The test’s goal is to determine
whether a person would be best at speed and power sports like sprinting
or football, or endurance sports like distance running, or a
combination of the two. A 2003 study discovered the link between ACTN3
and those athletic abilities.
In this era of genetic testing, DNA
is being analyzed to determine predispositions to disease, but experts
raise serious questions about marketing it as a first step in finding a
child’s sports niche, which some parents consider the road to a college
scholarship or a career as a professional athlete.
- The Yankees and the Mayor’s Office are back in the spotlight for some shady goings-on, questions about the public interest, and the place of the new Stadium in the public realm. This hasn’t shaped up to be a very dignified Fall for the Mayor’s Office.
- Speaking of civic building, an man whose greatest legacy is a renowned piece of urban architecture has passed away.
- In Northern England, a couple of great and storied rivalries pick up again. Who needs Yankees/Sox in the harsh, wet cold of December when you have Rags/Bitters and Gunners/Blues?!
Saturday, November 29th, 2008
C.C. Sabathia loves to hit. He probably would rather hit a walk-off homer than throw a no-hitter, which I think is the reason why he said on the Dan Patrick show that he would rather hit a walk-off homer than throw a no-hitter. It's strong evidence to help any NL team think, "Hey, we could throw a really large pile of money within a few million of the Yankees' recent 140M offer and have a decent chance at signing this guy; all we have to do is be prepared to let him hit in the bottom of the ninth with the game on the line."
Aside that chancy proposition, Dan Nied thinks there are better reasons for C.C. to sign with anyone but the Yankees.
Wednesday, November 26th, 2008
Poetic words from and about the early winter season:
That Time of Year Thou Mayst in Me Behold (Sonnet 73)
That time of year thou mayst in me behold
When yellow leaves, or none, or few, do hang
Upon those boughs which shake against the cold
The Unknowable and Jason Varitek
If you think about physical conditioning,
he's got many more years
to play in this game
When he's out there,
this club is decisively different.
You're really talking about a guy
that is inherently valuable.
In this day and time, what is a player
like that worth?
Want (with a simile comparing Garret Anderson to Tony Gwynn)
He’s in the class of player
where he gets a chance to get
like Tony Gwynn,
This guy’s four years away…
He wants to play every day
a number of
Monday, November 24th, 2008
Scott Boras held up Jorge Posada's contract as the ideal for Red Sox catcher Jason Varitek's next contract. The Red Sox have officially dismissed that ludicrous claim:
According to sources familiar with the negotiations, the Red Sox’ initial contract offer to free agent catcher Jason Varitek this offseason was for one year. It was not determined what the monetary worth of the offer would be, although indications were that it didn’t approach the annual average commanded by Jorge Posada ($13.1 million).
If the Red Sox offered, say, 1 year, $5-6 million, it could set the stage for a compromise agreement of 2/$16m that would free the Sox to acquire a young catcher who would essentially act as platoon partner/protege for Varitek as he winds his way toward a richly deserved retirement.
Sunday, November 23rd, 2008
Word across the ocean this evening is that the Red Sox have indeed made an offer to 22-year-old Japanese pitching sensation Junichi Tazawa, the player who forewent the NPB draft and has created something of an international baseball crisis for what his actions portend.
Sanspo is reporting that Red Sox VP for international scouting Craig Shipley spent 1 hour 50 minutes negotiating with Junichi Tawaza, resulting in a $6M contract offer.
Saturday, November 22nd, 2008
Friday, November 21st, 2008
"We've made him an offer. It's not going to be there forever," Hal Steinbrenner said Thursday after he was approved as the team's new controlling owner during a meeting at Major League Baseball headquarters.
When a little Steinbrenner says an offer won't last forever, he means it. No bluffing. Ever.
We're pretty sure we know what CC Sabathia is listening to on his iPod right now.
Who wants this pitcher?
- He's 21st in innings pitched among American League starters over the last three years — ahead of Chien-Ming Wang, Tim Wakefield, Cliff Lee, Scott Kazmir and Jose Contreras.
- He's made 80 starts, the same number as C.C. Sabathia.
- He's first in pitches per game started, just ahead of Sabathia.
- He averages nearly 6.2 innings per start.
- He's 15th in ERA, ahead of Felix Hernandez, Justin Verlander and Josh Beckett.
- He's also 15th in WHIP, tied with Wakefield and ahead of Wang, Verlander, Daisuke Matsuzaka and Jon Lester.
- He's fourth in K/9, ahead of Sabathia, Matsuzaka, Beckett, Hernandez and John Lackey.
- He's 14th in K/BB, ahead of control artists like Paul Byrd and Andy Pettitte, as well as Kazmir, Hernandez and Mark Buehrle.
- He's fifth in opponents' batting average, ahead of Roy Halladay, Danny Haren, Lackey and Sabathia.
- He's 10th in OPS+ against, tied with Jered Weaver and ahead of Dustin McGowan, Verlander and Wakefield.
- He's thrown quality starts 60 percent of the time, a higher rate than Pettitte, roughly equal to Wang and just behind Beckett.
- He's sixth in average game score, tied with Lackey and Matsuzaka, ahead of Becket, Jeremy Guthrie, James Shields, Haren, Hernandez, Mussina, Verlander and Wang.
He's clearly not first-tier. But maybe he's a little better — and a little more durable — than advertised.
Thursday, November 20th, 2008
We'd like to point out an interesting article by Alan Schwarz and Brad Lefton on Japanese phenom Junichi Tazawa, who is pegged as a potential impact hurler in the Bigs. This article touches on an pertinent and important subject, that of the poaching (or refusal to poach) Japanese amateur pitchers. Unfortunately, the article also trafficks in some blind speculation that we don't care for, and this concerns us.
In this article, the authors point out the "long-established practice for amateurs like [Tazawa] to be strictly off limits to major league clubs", and how there may be several clubs violating this unspoken rule. They speak with some GMs who go on the record, and their stances vary. Omar Minaya equivocates a bit, calling this a "sensitive area". Brian Cashman, to his credit, asserts clearly and plainly that the Yankees are not violating and will not violate this unwritten rule, going as far as to call Tazawa "hands off". The authors, however, aren't so discerning in their own assertions. They state towards the end of the article that, and here are the words that to me are so bothersome, "it is believed that at least a half dozen teams will actively pursue him", and then go on to name three speculated teams out of the "half dozen". They peg the Sox, the Mariners, and the Braves. Notice they do not provide the remaining three of the supposed "half dozen". They do not provide identification of those who supposedly believe these teams will pursue Tazawa. They do not provide on-the-record or even anonymous testimony from front office employees of the teams they name that they may be pursuing or believe that unwritten rules aren't really rules. Nor do they indicate that these teams had been approached yet refused comment to inquiries from the journalists. In other words, "it is believed" is an unsourced claim. Do the authors believe this? Fellow GMs? Who, exactly? In the meantime, Schwarz and Lefton have now planted the idea in the minds of the readers that at least three organizations might knowingly violate unspoken rules of business ethics and etiquette without any sources noting this to be the case. Though this "belief" of pursuit by these teams may eventually be proven true, that is besides the point. Damage, however minimal it might be in the end (and it could be more substantial than that), has been done to certain front offices. Those in the Japanese league, as per the title of the article, are "irked" by this meddling, and now Schwarz and Lefton have put names on the meddlers.
Schwarz and Lefton have framed this article as one about unwritten rules, etiquette, protocol. They then go on to imply that there are teams that will violate this protocol and etiquette knowingly and for competitive advantage. But the authors themselves have, to an extent, done the same thing. They have presented a unique story of interest, made assertions without backup, and as such made their own news supposedly newsworthy, they have gained an advantage over other writers pursuing this story but have exempted themselves from a burden of proof.
Alex Belth, Anthony McCarron, and I kick around the FA pitching options beyond CC Sabathia a bit more in this SNY.TV video segment. You always wish you could say more here, and for some reason I upped everyone's ages a bit. One point I had hoped to make was that GB pitchers like Lowe (and Wang) will suffer from the Yankee infield defense, as will Pettitte. A recurring theme for me in these segments is this: given the bad economy and the inherent risk of any FA pitcher acquisition, is the team better off spending $150 million on CC or half that much on a guy like Burnett? Certainly, now that Moose is off the table, Pettitte's return should be another foregone conclusion. (And there's another GB specialist.) Does the franchise need to spend the money on CC to be positive there's going to be at least one stud in the rotation should Chamberlain, Wang, or Hughes not emerge as one in the coming years? Some tough decisions for the team. If it were up to me, I'd choose between CC and Burnett (or Sheets, whom we did not discuss), pick up Pettitte for a year, and be done with it. Mark Pryor might also be an interesting reclamation project. More on Moose later.