We’re only at Halloween and a lot has already taken place in Yankeeland. Let’s start from the beginning and work our way forward.
• George Steinbrenner quickly ended the biggest speculation of this off-season by telling Joe Torre he would be back for his 12th season as Yankee’s manager. I think Torre has done a great job while he’s been here, but I also think it was time for a change. Poor decision making in the playoffs since the 2003 World Series should have spelled the end.
• The tragic death of pitcher Corey Lidle on October 11th was a complete stunner to everyone, not just baseball fans. Bud Selig let Mother Nature cancel the Mets-Cards game that night, but he should have done it himself.
• M*A*S*H 4077th – The post-season surgeries began with Randy Johnson having his bad back worked on and Jason Giambi having a torn tendon taken care of in his wrist. Andy Phillips also had his right knee scope. All three are expected to be ready for Spring Training, with Johnson likely behind the other pitchers. Unless of course Carl Pavano is still here.
• The Asshole That Roared – Gary Sheffield may be more reliable than Tommy Henrich was. Of course in Henrich’s case it was referring to his ability to hit in the clutch. Sheffield on the other hand can be counted on to make outrageous statements and demands when his ego isn’t stroked enough. This time it’s because of a hot rumor that the Yankees will pick up Sheffield’s $13 million option for 2007, but only so that they can trade him.
Sheff’s all bent out of shape because he wanted to test the free agent waters and has already been quoted as stating that if he gets dealt on a one-year deal, it’s going to be a problem. Wait a second Sheff. Aren’t you the guy who was ecstatic in Spring Training when you thought the Yankees were going to exercise the option. And then weren’t you the same guy who was pissed because you misunderstood Brian Cashman – and the option was an auto-renewal like you were lead to believe?
Sheffield even went as far as dropping by George Steinbrenner’s place in Tampa. Only King George wasn’t home (though you can picture him peeking from behind a curtain as Sheff throws pebbles up at the window).
Bend over and take it like a man Sheff. Weren’t you the guy who negotiated your contract. Yeah, absolutely. So one more thing Sheff. Shut your fucking hole. You have NO leverage. The Cubs, Phillies, Angels, and Tigers are among the teams that have already shown interest.
• There, There A-Rod – Can we please Kleenex in bulk from Costco? We ask because it’s going to take a whole lot of therapy sessions this off-season so that Alex can come back and play with his teammates next season.
There’s no question that the abuse that A-Rod took this season from the fans went beyond what was called for. A-Rod took the heat for the Yankees failures this season, especially in the playoffs, when he was once again a no-show.
That being said, is this really the same player that won the MVP award in 2005? While he insists he wants to stay, and Brian Cashman insists he is staying, it would probably serve everyone the most if A-Rod went somewhere else. He’s about this close to becoming Nancy-Rod to the fans.
• You Stand Over There – When a manager returns after a poor season or playoff, one of his coaches usually takes a hit. Especially if that manager is working for George Steinbrenner. Though it hasn’t been officially announced, Lee Mazzilli is gone as bench coach for the Bombers and Don Mattingly has been “promoted” to bench coach. Long time minor league hitting instructor Kevin Long will be named to replace Mattingly.
Now we know that there is a push from behind the scenes to make Mattingly the successor to Torre in 2008. However, this move really makes no sense. Mattingly did a very good job as hitting coach and can’t be blamed for the horrendous performance by the Pinstripes in the last 2 playoffs.
Additionally we have no idea if Mattingly can manage and it would have made a lot more sense to make Joe Girardi, who it appears will not be managing this year, the new bench coach and possible successor to Torre. Instead it looks like Girardi’s talents will be wasted in the YES broadcast booth.
Can Kevin Long cut it as a hitting instructor at the Major League level? Especially, with a team full of egos. It’s great that the guy gets the chance, but it would have been greater if it were somewhere else.
• Brian Cashman has his work cut out for him this Winter. It was made crystal clear that this team cannot win on talent alone. The greatest lineup ever assembled couldn’t have beaten the cast of a Broadway musical. The starting pitching needs to be revamped, the bullpen needs to be strengthened, and some heads need to roll (besides Sal Fasano and Nick Green). It should make for a very rumor filled winter.