Think the Yanks are interested in finding someone (anyone!) to backup Jorge? In addition to Wil Nieves, who’s on the 40-man roster, invited to Yankee spring training are: Francisco Cervelli, Raul Chavez, Ben Davis, Peter Pilittere, Todd Pratt, Omir Santos, Joe Girardi, Matt Nokes, and Butch Wynegar. Got skillz? Start working on your squat-thrusts and oil up that glove!
Category: General Yankees
Jeff Nelson signed a minor-league contract with the New York Yankees Friday and then announced his retirement. Wanting to retire as a Yankee, the 40-year-old Nelson ends his career as the pitcher with more post-season appearances than any other pitcher in the history of the game not named Mariano Rivera.
At the age of 25 in 1992, Jeffrey Allen Nelson, born in 1966 in Baltimore, Maryland, came up with the Seattle Mariners, where he logged a stout 81 innings in 66 games on his way to a 1-7 record and a 3.44 ERA. The rangy pitcher went on to hurl four years in Seattle the first go-round, and got his first taste of the post-season in 1995, taking the loss in game one but advancing with his team as the Mariners knocked the Yankees out of the ALDS in five games.
In the ALCS, he appeared in three games and didn’t allow a run but Cleveland knocked Seattle out in six games. Following the season, he was traded along with Tino Martinez and Jim Mercer to the Yankees for Russ Davis and Sterling Hitchcock. Thus began his contribution to a run of four World Series victories in five years.
The title is a quote from Mariano Rivera in an interview with Mo written by Dan Martin in the NY Post. "When Randy came here , he didn’t have the same stuff he used to have," Rivera said.
Rivera also said that his arm felt good, that Pettitte will be a key in the Yankee’s return to dominance, and that Andy should never have left. So true, Mo.
Kei Igawa: True Yankee
"And the sign says "Long-haired freaky people need not apply"
So I put my hair up under my hat and I went in to ask him why
He said you look like a fine outstanding young man, I think you’ll do
So I took off my hat, I said "Imagine that, huh, me working for you"
"Japanese pitcher Kei Igawa left for New York on Monday to attend a news conference to mark his signing with the New York Yankees.
In keeping with Yankees rules, he cut his trademark long hair.
"I feel refreshed," he said."
I’m suspicious. Will Igawa, free-spirited eccentric and all-around wild man, pull a Tesla at today’s news conference and stun his new bosses when he takes off his hat only to reveal even longer hair?! The era of Igawa has begun and I think it’s going to be full of surprises and controversy. Dear god, I hope he pulls a Tesla…When do pitcher and catchers report again?
A side note: Has anyone else noticed how many "long-haired freaky" types the Yanks have signed in recent years? Randy Johnson, Johnny Damon, Jason Giambi, and now Kei Igawa. Maybe it’s my imagination but the Yanks seem to like to play with fire. It’s like the daughter of the preacher who likes the town bad boy. Very Freudian.
Pin-Headed Pt. II: Kay on Randy
It seems Michael Kay is less than enamored with the deal that sent the Unit back to Arizona, or at least thinks Randy’s 17-win performance last year was a mark of excellence, a pitcher who “knows how to win,” nevermind his league-best run support and lousy ERA. As he told a caller on his radio show, “he’s a veteran pitcher that knows how to pitch to the score so his ERA is going to be higher. It doesn’t matter. All that matters is if he wins and loses.” This is pretty much bunk, as Rich Lederer points out on Baseball Analysts, with an assist from a savvy respondent on Kay’s show. I would ask Kay, was Randy using his veteran know-how when he blew a 4-0 lead against Toronto in April? Yes, pitchers pitch to the score, and there’s a sabermetric argument to be made about Randy’s peripherals—it’s not a good argument though, and, in any case, Kay isn’t making it here. In fact, he is dismissive of “statheads.” It’s exactly this kind of warped logic that makes the wins leader the Cy Young winner, regardless of more meaningful standards. Feh. Someone send Kay the new Bill James handbook and a copy of Anti-Intellectualism in American Life.
Torre fave Miguel Cairo has signed on (for $750k) as the Yankee reserve infielder. That noise you hear is sabermetrically inclined Bomber fans banging their heads against a wall.
The Future of Bernie
It seems fitting—and perhaps a harbinger of things to come—that the picture sitting at the top of his website shows Bernie Williams holding a guitar and not a bat and glove. With a platoon at first base, and Melky as the primary reserve outfielder, there would appear to be little place on the Yankee roster for Old 51. At the moment anyway—things have a way of changing as the season approaches. There’s been much speculation around of late that Bernie might hang up his cleats. If he does, we can only thank him for so many wonderful seasons. If he chooses to play on with another squad, we wish him the best, too. Ballplayers play ball. That’s what and who they are. If that’s what he enjoys, there’s no reason—in our humble opinion—that he should simply not do it so he can remain a “Yankee for Life.” He”ll always be a Yankee, in our minds, no matter where he plays his last game. Thanks for the memories!
Derek and Jessica—ain’t they cute?—are off enjoying the warm waters of the tropics. Looks like fun. And fear not: those life jackets are no metaphor for post-Randy life with the Yanks. Anyway, we were sick of that Foulke picture at the top of the blog. Yick.
The Unit Is Gone
It’s final. Randy Johnson has been traded back to the Arizona Diamondbacks. The haul, as per Peter Abraham (commentary is ours):
RHP Luis Vizcaino. A 32 year-old journeyman with a mediocre WHIP. In the NL.
RHP Ross Ohlendorf. He went to Princeton. Decent numbers in AA.
RHP Stephen Jackson. Didn’t go to Princeton. Decent numbers in AA.
SS Alberto Gonzalez. No worries, Derek!
So let’s call it what it was: a salary dump with a few decent prospects thrown in. A good deal for Arizona, in our opinion. Prepare for a series of field-good profiles of Ohlendorf, the Ivy Kid. Now, Mr. Cashman, exactly how do you plan on replacing those 17 wins? Hmm? We’re waiting….
Great stuff from Peter Abraham today, who reports that Doug Mientkiewicz is on his way to New York for a physical, and will sign a one year deal with the Bombers as a platoon first baseman. In our opinion, this deal became a lot more desirable for the Yanks the moment they signed Andy Pettitte; with two ground-ball intensive starters, an excellent glove at first is going to be all the more important for this team, and they should be able to compensate for the less-than-inspiring offensive production.
Abraham also speculates that Clemens will not decide on where to play (the choices being NY, Bos, Hou) for some time, and that the fortune of the season may determine where he goes. “Clemens will probably want to do what he did last season: Hang around spring training with his kid, play some golf, make a comeback in May and pitch in June. If Houston is contending, the Astros will be the team to beat. If not, it’ll be a fight between the Yankees and Red Sox.” Abraham suggests Clemens would pick Boston, all things being equal, out of a sense of history. Who knows. He presumably still has that Yankee Hummer. Another interesting point: the Astros can get away with offering Clemens all kinds of special privileges, but Joe Torre is a lot less likely to be so lenient, especially when he has so many other superstars on the team. Still, you’d expect guys like A-Rod and Mo and Jeter to handle this properly. But if Roger gets all kinds of dispensations in Boston….different story.
Anyway, with Minky and Pettitte, the NY tabloid spell checkers will have to be extra vigilant.
Randy: All But Gone
There’s no formal news, but after so much talk, so many leaks, no serious denials, and everyone back to work after the holidays, it looks like a deal to send the Big Unit back to Arizona will be completed in the near to immediate future. The Yanks, it appears, will get several prospects in return, probably to include Micah Owings, who was 10-0 in AAA last season (the peripherals are good, but not spectacular), further stocking a system that has, all of a sudden, filled with high-powered talent. The issues to be resolved now are financial.
With his departure an essential fait accompli, we can begin to rate Johnson’s tenure in the Bronx. By any serious measure, it was a failure. Randy managed to alienate the media, his teammates (in particular Jorge Posada), and fans with his surly demeanor; on the field he was erratic. When the Yanks needed him most, he was not the Johnson of old. Fair? Perhaps not. But expectations aren’t always fair, especially for professional athletes who make $16 million a year. Everyone, Randy included, can walk away disappointed that New York fans never really got to see the magical, dominating Johnson who will be a first ballot Hall of Famer.
Still, Johnson’s departure leaves a major hole in the Yankee rotation. He did win 17 games last year, and was often quite effective—some Sabermetricians claim he was far more effective than his numbers (or eyewitnesses) suggest. Whatever the case, the spot will have to be filled, and doing so will not be easy. The best option is probably Roger Clemens, and the Yanks are said to be in hot pursuit. But he is no spring chicken, did not pitch a full season last year, and has been putting up his numbers in the NL. To expect more from him than what the Unit provided last year—well, 17 wins is a lot of wins. The very good news is the Yanks have a surplus of very high quality young arms, not to mention the willdcard of Carl Pavano. Things could be a whole lot worse. And they’re poised to get a whole lot better.
SF’s excellent post about Selena Roberts’ myth-perpetuating rant got it just right. Roberts, who continues to be one of my least favorite sports scribes (Lupica tops the list) for her continual negativity, decided that Johnson’s apparent trade request was an admission on his part that New York had gotten to him, that he couldn’t handle the pressure. In a two page column, Roberts waxed poetic about just how difficult it is for some people to make it in the unsympathetic hell hole that is New York City. Travis Bickle would have been proud. It would have helped Roberts’ case if she had actually provided detailed evidence to support her scared suburbanite’s view of the terrible city. Another thing that would have helped her is if she had bothered to investigate the circumstances surrounding Johnson’s request. Reading today’s Daily News I discovered this:
Johnson, who is coming off back surgery, did not request a trade, but the Yankees began discussions with other clubs after GM Brian Cashman called Johnson to offer condolences after Johnson’s older brother died recently. During the call, Johnson told the GM it was important to be close to his family.
This is the first time I’ve read anything about Johnson’s loss. I’ve read plenty of insinuations by Roberts and posters in the blogosphere (none of them here) that the Big Unit asked out because he couldn’t hack it. I guess I understand the reasoning that underlies such an assumption, but to me, it’s one of the things I most dislike about sports fandom. And I’m sure I’ve been guilty of it in the past. That is, I’m sure I have called into question a player’s fortitude or, more to the point, his manliness when I have been disappointed by his performance. In this case, with these details out, it would seem the height of cynicism to continue insisting that Johnson asked about a possible trade because he can’t handle the pressure of NYC. Perhaps I’m especially sensitive about this subject because of recent events in my life, but I feel Johnson is doing the "manly" thing in seeing if he can be near his family during this difficult time.