Monday, November 30, 2009
Chip Caray, whose announcing style and apparent lack of understanding/knowledge annoyed everyone this past post-season, is no longer employed by TBS.
The announcement came today that Caray and the network couldn't come up with a new deal for the 2010 season. Perhaps TBS executives listened to all of the criticism of Caray's work in October and decided it was time to get a new number one announcer.
Caray became a running joke when he repeatedly used the word "fisted" during playoff broadcasts.
Written for Baseball Digest Online
Derek Jeter had already enjoyed a phenomenal year, but now he has one more prize to add to it. Jeter has been named Sports Illustrated’s “Sportsman of the Year”. In winning, Jeter became the first Yankee to pick up the magazine’s award.
In addition to winning his 5th World Series ring, Jeter passed Lou Gehrig as the Yankees’ all-time hitter leader, won the Roberto Clemente Award for his off the field work, the Henry Aaron Award for his offensive exploits, and Gold Glove and Silver Slugger awards.
It was that combination of on- and off-field achievement that helped make Jeter this year’s Sportsman. Said Sports Illustrated Group Editor Terry McDonell, “Derek Jeter has always presented himself with class; he does numerous good works for the community with his Turn 2 Foundation, which is one of the most efficient, effective foundations of its kind; and he’s extremely generous with not just his money but with his time, which in many cases is more valuable. He also had another signature year on the field.” Source: SI.com
Sunday, November 29, 2009
According to a story in Friday's Toronto Sun, Blue Jays ace Roy Halladay, according to a major league executive, has said he would be willing to waive his no-trade clause to play for the Yankees next season. The effect of a 27th championship no doubt had some influence on Doc's decision, if in fact he has really made said decision.
But what would it take to get the star right-hander in Pinstripes? You can start putting a package together that begins with Yankees top prospect Jesus Montero. It's unlikely the Blue Jays would make any deal with the Bombers without Montero's inclusion.
And the Yankees would likely not make a deal without at least exploring a new contract for Halladay, whose deal expires at the end of the 2010 season.
Friday, November 27, 2009
The White Sox apparently feel that getting older is a good thing. They've signed 21-yr veteran Omar Vizquel as utility man and 14-yr veteran Andruw Jones as an outfielder/DH. White Sox outfielder Jermaine Dye, expected to sign elsewhere, said he would be willing to switch to 1st base in order to be a good fit for his new team.
Johnny Damon wants a long term deal and says he has offers from a handful of teams. Actually, not only did Damon make that statement, but so did his wife Michelle and his agent Scott Boras. If Damon sticks to his guns, it's unlikely he'll be back in Pinstripes.
The Blue Jays re-signed great defense/no bat infield John McDonald to a new deal and then added good defense/not much of a bat Alex Gonzalez to their roster as well. Blue Jays' free agent infielder Marco Scutaro is likely to leave with Boston being tops on his wish list. That according to his agent, Peter Greenberg.
A little late in passing this along, but as expected Albert Pujols was named NL MVP on Wednesday. Pujols received all 32 first place votes to finish ahead of Hanley Ramirez, Ryan Howard, and Prince Fielder.
It was Pujols' 2nd consecutive award and his third overall. He's the first NL'er to repeat since Barry Bonds took the award four straight years from 2001-2004.
Despite losing out on the Cy Young award to Tim Lincecum, Chris Carpenter (14) finished highest in the voting among all pitchers.
2009 NL MVP vote leaders
|A. Pujols, STL||32||448|
|H. Ramirez, FLA||15||5||233|
|R. Howard, PHI||6||8||217|
|P. Fielder, MIL||5||9||203|
|T. Tulowitzki, COL||3||6||172|
|A. Ethier, LAD||2||113|
It was just a matter of time. Mr. Sheppard, 99 years old, had never fully recovered from upper respiratory issues that sidelined him over the past two seasons. And though he never used the word retired in his official statement, Mr. Sheppard did say,
"But," he acknowledged yesterday, "I don’t intend at this moment to see myself back as a public address announcer at Yankee Stadium, feeling the way I do now."All of us Yankees fans have missed the impeccable speech, the succinct pronunciation of each name, and the low-key manner in which Mr. Sheppard delivered his announcements. Listening to an over the top presentation like the one delivered by Detroit Pistons' P.A. man John Mason makes you appreciate Mr. Sheppard even more.
Reached at his Baldwin home, Sheppard hedged, but only slightly, saying, "It wasn’t a resignation. It wasn’t quitting. It wasn’t throwing in the glove."
So he isn’t ruling out a future return? Sheppard laughed.
"Let me start from the bottom: I am now 99 years old," he said. "I don ’t think a man 99 years old goes back to work after two years of separation."
We hope one day to hear the "Voice of God" echo throughout the new Yankee Stadium, but if not, we will always treasure the memories.
Monday, November 23, 2009
As you may have noticed (hopefully someone noticed), I haven't done to much blogging since the World Series ended. I need to catch up some things, including sleep. A lot has been going on since the Series ended - baseball no longer goes to the back pages when the season ends. And with the way the Giants and Rangers have been playing, it's better to dwell on the 27th championship and the 2010 Yankees season. (If you're a Knicks or Nets fan, you've probably already started counting the hours, minutes, and seconds until Spring Training).
Let's start with some hardware, the non-27th championship type :)
As expected Joe Mauer cruised to the American League MVP trophy earlier today. Yankees Mark Teixeira and Derek Jeter finished 2nd and 3rd respectively. Mauer got all but one first place vote, with 4th place finisher Miguel Cabrera inexplicably picking up the lone dissenting vote. This is the same Cabrera who got loaded the night before a huge game with the White Sox as the Tigers crumbled down the stretch. Apparently one sportswriter must have drinking when he put in his/her ballot.
Here's the total vote count for Mauer and the top five finishers.
K. Morales 170
Mauer became just the second catcher in the last 23 years to win the award. Teixeira had been our pre-season prediction.
Alex Rodriguez (10th), Mariano Rivera (14), Robinson Cano (17) and CC Sabathia (21) were the other Yankees to receive votes.
Awards already announced:
The Managers of the Year were the Angels' Mike Scioscia (whom I correctly predicted would take the award) and the Rockies Jim Tracy. I expected the Angels to run away with the AL West, but Scioscia had to really do a great job this year to overcome injuries and the death of Nick Adenhardt. Joe Girardi finished 3rd behind Scioscia and Ron Gardenhire.
Tracey meanwhile took a slumping Rockies squad to the NL wild card. (Our Spring Training pick was a sentimental one- Bobby Cox. He finished 5th in the voting.).
Rookie of the Year honors in the AL went to the A's (and New Jersey's) Andrew Bailey, who grabbed the team's closer role. The Marlins' Chris Coghlan took the NL award. I had predicted prior to the season that Baltimore's Matt Wieters and the Cards' Jason Motte would pick up the awards. Neither received a vote, though Wieters did finish the season in strong fashion.
Bailey's fellow NJ native, Rick Porcello, came in the 3rd in the AL voting.
2009 AL roy voting
2009 nl roy voting
The AL Cy Young went to KC's Zack Greinke. The Royals managed just 65 wins this season, with nearly a quarter of them (16) won by Greinke. Only Steve Carlton's 27 wins on a 59-win team may have been more impressive. Our pre-season pick CC Sabathia, finished fourth in the voting.
The National League award went to Tim Lincecum for the second consecutive season. I personally felt that Chris Carpenter would win the award. I mistakenly chose Johan Santana prior to the start of the season. Boy, that was a mistake.
AL Cy Young Award Voting
|Zack Greinke, KC||25||3||134|
|Felix Hernandez, SEA||2||23||1||80|
|Justin Verlander, DET||1||9||14|
|CC Sabathia, NYY||2||7||13|
|Roy Halladay, TOR||11||11|
NL Cy Young Award Voting
|Tim Lincecum, SF||11||12||9||100|
|Chris Carpenter, STL||9||14||7||94|
|Adam Wainwright, STL||12||5||15||90|
|Javier Vazquez, ATL||1||3|
|Dan Haren, ARI||1||1|
The NL MVP will be announced tomorrow with Albert Pujols to pick up another momento for his trophy case. Prince Fielder and Ryan Howard should finish 2-3.
Thursday, November 19, 2009
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
“I know there are some who have talked off line about the expansion of instant replay,” said Jimmie Lee Solomon, executive vice president of baseball operations in the commissioner’s office. “Right now, the commissioner doesn’t see any reason to consider it.”The commissioner must not have been paying attention this post-season when the supposedly best umpires in baseball got one call wrong after another. And they weren't always simple safe/out calls either.
Phil Cuzzi's foul ball call on Joe Mauer's clear double was a game changer in the Yankees-Twins series. And Tim McLelland made not one, but two bad calls at third base during the Yankees-Angels series. They were clear cut calls that were blatantly wrong. All the umpire conferences in the world aren't going to make those problems go away. Instead you have people questioning the integrity of the game, especially in light of the Tim Donaghy NBA scandal.
All that being said, I don't really like the idea of games constantly being interrupted for replays/reviews. But at least it should be discussed, not summarily dismissed.
The Captain and Tex Bring Home the GoldWritten for Baseball Digest Online
A week after winning their 27th World Series title, two New York Yankees have added to their trophy cases.
Team captain, and shortstop, Derek Jeter and first baseman Mark Teixeira have been named Gold Glove winners for the 2009 season.
Jeter, who had a tremendous all around season, was honored for the first time since 2006 and won his fourth Gold Glove overall. Teixeira, in his first season in the Bronx, not only won the AL home run (along with Tampa Bay’s Carlos Pena) and RBI crowns, but picked up his third career Gold Glove award as well.
Teixeira made just four errors this season while posting a .997 fielding percentage. Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, and Robinson Cano may have had more errors themselves, if not for Tex’s stellar play at first base.
Jeter’s eight errors were the lowest total of his career, and his improved range led to a .986 fielding percentage, the best mark at his position.
Joining the two Yankees as AL winners were second baseman Placido Polanco (Det), third baseman Evan Longoria, catcher Joe Mauer (Min), and outfielders Torii Hunter (LAA), Ichiro Suzuki (Sea), and Adam Jones (Bal). Chicago’s Mark Buehrle was the winner among the AL’s pitchers.
Saturday, November 7, 2009
While Yankees fans were busy attending the victory parade or watching it on TV, the front office of the other 29 teams were keeping busy. It's not even the general manager's meetings or Hot Stove time, but deals were already made today.
Carlos Gomez, a key player in the Johan Santana deal between the Mets and Twins, was sent back to the National League for the Brewers' J.J. Hardy. Gomez became a role player this year after Denard Span took over the Twins center field spot. He stole 33 bases in 2008, but posted just a .298 on-base percentage. Things got worse in '09 as Gomez's OBP dipped to just .287.
Hardy's stock had plummeted in Milwaukee. After averaging 25 home runs in 77 RBI in 2007-2008, Hardy hit just .229 this past season with 11 HR and 47 RBI. The Twins used the light hitting Nick Punto, Brendan Harris, and Matt Tolbert as shortstop this past season.
The White Sox acquired veteran Mark Teahen from the Kansas City Royals for infielders Josh Fields and Chris Getz, and cash. Teahen could be the Yankees regular third baseman or could move to right field to replace Jermaine Dye. The White Sox declined Dye's option for 2010 making the outfielder a free agent.
Deals actually began earlier this week when Tampa Bay sent Japanese import Aki Iwamura to the Pittsburgh Pirates (they don't just acquire Yankees pitchers) for pitcher Jesse Chavez. Iwamura missed much of the '09 season with a torn ACL.
Oh how Jeremy Hermida's stock has fallen. The one time major prospect in the Florida Marlins organization was dealt to the Boston Red Sox on Thursday for pitchers Hunter Jones and Jose Alvarez. After hitting .296-18-63 with an .870 OPS in 2007, Hermida's run production and OBP dipped the last two seasons. The left-handed hitter especially struggled against southpaws, hitting just .189.
The Phillies picked up the option on Cliff Lee for 2010. The Dodgers did the same for Manny Ramirez, while the Diamondbacks picked up pitcher Brandon Webb's option.
Fomer Yankee Bobby Abreu will stay in Anaheim after signing a new 2-yr, $19 million deal with the LA Angels. His former teammate Scott Proctor has signed a minor league deal with the Braves.
The Mariners claimed one time Mets prospect Yusmeiro Petit from the Arizona Diamondbacks. The Dbacks also declined the option on Chad Tracy.
Other players who will be free agents after having their options declined - Miguel Olivo (KC), Coco Crisp (KC), J.J. Putz (Mets), Yorvit Torrealba (Col), David Weathers (Mil), and Austin Kearns (Wash).
Thursday, November 5, 2009
He laughed. He cried. He smiled. He hugged. And he had to breathe a sigh of relief. Alex Rodriguez has been called many things, a lot of them unkind, but now he can finally be called a champion.
Unfairly saddled with the blame for the Yankees epic 2004 ALCS collapse, A-Rod busted out of his post-season doldrums and had an October and November for the ages. He not only won his first World Series title, but was an integral part of said title.
Back in Spring Training this probably all seemed like a pipe dream for the three time AL MVP. First there was the revelation, and all the scrutiny that followed, that he took steroids during his time with the Texas Rangers. Then came the devastating blow to the Yankees regular season chances when it was announced A-Rod would need to undergo hip surgery and would miss a good chunk of the beginning of the season.
But maybe his first at-bat of the regular season was an omen for things to come. It was May 8 at Camden Yards in Baltimore. Rodriguez jumped on the very first pitch he saw from the Orioles Jeremy Guthrie and hammered it into the left field seats. Less than two weeks later he homered six times in eight games. It seemed like everything was coming up "a-roses". Then the expected rust began to show and A-Rod was hitting just .233 at the end of June.
But the Yankees began winning. With A-Rod providing protection for him, Mark Teixeira returning to his raking ways. And A-Rod relaxed. He let his proverbial hair down. He enjoyed the game again. And he put the team ahead of himself. Some props clearly have to go out to actress Kate Hudson, who it seems has been a good influence on the slugger.
Rodriguez hit .310 after the All-Star break and used one magical inning on the regular season's final day in Tampa Bay (2 HR, 7 RBI) to reach 30 home runs and 100 RBI for the 12th straight season. The Yankees won the AL East, A-Rod was smacking the ball around the yard again, but still the question lingered. Could A-Rod finally shake the demons that had haunted his last 3 1/2 post-seasons? It didn't take long to find out.
He drove in two runs in Game 1 of the ALDS against the Minnesota Twins. Two days later he hit a game tying 2-run home run in the 9th against Joe Nathan. The Yankees finished off the sweep in the Twin-Cities as Rodriguez went deep again.
Next came the challenge of the arch nemesis Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. With the Angels looking to even the series at a game piece, Rodriguez came through in the clutch again. Trailing 3-2 in the bottom of the 11th, Rodriguez went deep off closer Brian Fuentes to tie the game. The Yankees would win in 13 innings for a commanding 2-0 lead in the ALCS. The Yankees took the series four games to two as their third baseman reached base safely all five times he came to the plate in Game 6.
The World Series started off miserably for Rodriguez as struck out six times in eight at-bats. But he hit .400 over the final four games with a home run, 6 RBI, a steal, a pair of walks, and was hit by a pitch three times. He got the Yankees back in Game 3 with a clutch 2-run shot and drove in the game winner in Game 4. The Yankees were winning and Alex Rodriguez was right in the middle of it.
He was right in the middle of it last night too. Hoisting the World Series trophy that had been so elusive for so long. I dare anyone to now say that Alex Rodriguez is not a true Yankee.
17 players on the Yankees 25 man roster are first time World Series champions, but it was the "old timers" that helped bring home the New York Yankees' 27th championship, and first in nine years. Andy Pettitte jabbed and counter punched his way to his record 18 post-season win with 5-plus innings of work and Mariano Rivera came on to get the final five outs in the Yankees series clinching 7-3 win over the Philadelphia Phillies.
But it was a first-timer that played a key role and took home the hardware as series MVP. Hideki Matsui, playing in what could be his last game as a Yankee tied a series record (also held by Yankee Bobby Richardson in 1960) with 6 RBI. His 2-run home run off Pedro Martinez gave the Yankees an early lead and increased the volume of the "Who's your daddy" chants from the crowd. Godzilla later added a 2-run double and a 2-run single to cap an amazing night.
Derek Jeter had three hits to finish the series with a .407 and scored twice. Though he went 0-3, it was Jorge Posada once again behind the plate for a big Pettitte performance. And though the native Texan didn't have his best stuff working on three days rest, he gave the Yankees just enough of what was needed.
Pettitte allowed just one run through the first five innings, getting Jimmy Rollins to hit into a key double play in the fifth before the Phillies' big bats came to the plate. He heard his name chanted throughout the night just as Paul O'Neill had in 2001. Pettitte finally exited, one batter after Ryan Howard finally hit a series home run, to a standing ovation.
Joba Chamberlain got the final out of the 6th before putting two aboard with two outs in the 7th. But unexpected World Series hero Damaso Marte struck out Chase Utley to end the inning and K'ed Howard to start the 8th. That's when skipper Joe Girardi went to his closer to finish out the night.
Rivera gave up a hit and a walk along the way, but after a long at-bat, induced Shane Victorino to bounce out to Robinson Cano for the 27th out. Rivera's teammates poured out of the dugout and bullpen to join in on the wild celebration taking place on the field.
Despite not starting the three games in Philadelphia and having only 14 plate appearances, Matsui finished with 3 HR and 8 RBI. Oh, and a .615 batting average.
It was the fifth championship for Jeter, Pettitte, Rivera, and Posada. It was the second time around for Johnny Damon, Marte, Eric Hinske, and Jose Molina.
Pettitte also picked up the clinching victory in 1998. He's the first pitcher to get two winners since Bob Gibson accomplished the feat for the St. Louis Cardinals in '64 and '67. Rivera has picked up the final outs in four of the five championships the Yankees have won since 1996.
Joe Girardi joined fellow managers Joe Torre, Bob Lemon, Billy Martin, Ralph Houk, Casey Stengel, Bucky Harris, Joe McCarthy, and Miller Huggins in winning a World Series title with the Yankees. Girardi, who wore number 27 this year, announced today that he will wear number 28 next season as a new incentive to the team.
Tuesday, November 3, 2009
Written for Baseball Digest Online.
Anyone watching last night’s World Series Game 5, must have thought they were watching a replay of the fifth game of the American League Championship Series. A.J. Burnett on the mound, no command, flat fastballs, opponent taking a quick lead. And like that 5th game, the New York Yankees came out on the wrong end of an 8-6 score to the Philadelphia Phillies last night. The series returns to New York for Wednesday night’s Game 6.
Second guessers came out of everywhere as soon as Burnett started giving up hit/walk/hit batter, one after another. Had a fully rested Andy Pettitte or CC Sabathia been waiting in the wings it would have been one thing. But the second guessing in this case centered on whether or not Chad Gaudin should have started Game 4.
To put it simply, Chad Gaudin has no business having an impact on a World Series game. unless it game goes 12 innings or more. He certainly does not have any career portfolio to warrant getting a World Series start.
But because of a good four innings here or there, members of the media and Yankees fans spent a good part of last night (and I’m sure today) grousing about Gaudin not getting the start. Heck no one can even agree how to pronounce his name and you want him to start a possible World Series clinching game for you? And you know that if Gaudin had started and was bombed, the second guessers would be going in the opposite direction.
A.J. Burnett has driven all Yankees fans, and probably his teammates, crazy with inconsistancy. It’s not just from game to game, but inning to inning as was the case in the ALCS Game 5, when he pitched well after the 1st frame.
Be that as it may, Burnett was 3-0, 1.86 ERA in his prior starts on three days rest and was dominant in his Game 2 start. The decision to start him on three days rest was a no-brainer for Joe Girardi. And while I’ve questioned many of Girardi’s strategies, particularly involving the bullpen, he was on the money in deciding to go with just three starters in both the ALCS and World Series.
Monday, November 2, 2009
The Yankees have a decision to make this winter concerning free agent to be Johnny Damon, whose four year contract is up after this season. Damon's skills in the outfield have decreased considerably, but he showed this season that he can still be offensive force. It was Damon's play at the plate and on the bases last night that helped put the Yankees one win away from their 27th World Championship.
The Yankees scored three runs in the 9th inning and beat the Philadelphia Philles 7-4 before a sold out, raucous Citizens Bank Park. The Phillies had gotten off the mat in the bottom of the 8th when Pedro Feliz hit a game tying solo home run off of Joba Chamberlain. But after Brad Lidge retired the first two Yankees in the 9th, Damon lined a single on the 10th hit of the at-bat.
With Mark Teixeira up, the Phillies employed their usual shift with third baseman Feliz positioned more like a shortstop. Damon took off for second, beating catcher Carlos Ruiz's throw. After a momentary hesitation, Damon broke off for the unoccupied third base and reached it uncontested.
The play was huge. With Damon on third, Lidge would be more reluctant to throw his slider in the dirt. Lidge, who appeared to have turned his regular season struggles around during the post-season, hit Teixeira. Alex Rodriguez then drilled a fat fastball off the left field wall to give the Yankees a 5-4 lead. Jorge Posada provided some insurance with a 2-run double and Mariano Rivera nailed down the save.
Damon's defense had come into question earlier in the game when he play Feliz's catchable ball on a hop and made a weak throw home as Ryan Howard scored to tie the game at two apiece.
In actuality, Howard never scored as he never touched home plate. It was just part of a bad night for home plate ump Mike Everitt who had a wandering plate all night.
Sunday, November 1, 2009
Written for Baseball Digest Online
Andy Pettitte has been on the big stage many times ni his career, but early on last night it looked like the Phillies were going to get the better of him and the Yankees. Then the Yankees bats woke up against the very human version of Cole Hamels and Pettitte bared down. The result was an 8-5 Yankees win that gave the Bronx Bombers a 2-1 World Series lead.
Down 3-0, Alex Rodriguez, hitless to that point, got the Yankees on the board in the 4th when he lined a 2-run home run off a televsion camera near the right field corner. Originally ruled as being in play, the umpires conferred and went to replay to confirm the call (Fox’s Joe Buck continued to call rhe replay inconclusive the rest of the night).
Pettitte helped out his own cause with a game tying single an inning later and Johnny Damon put the Yankees ahead for a good with a 2-run double in the same frame.
Nick Swisher, who snapped out of a 4-35 skid with a double, added a solo home run in the 6th and Hideki Matsui added some insurance with a pinch-hit solo shot in the 8th inning.
Pettitte started out shaky and the Phillies took advantage. Jayson Werth hit the first of two home runs in the 2nd inning and the Phillies added two more when Pettitte walked Jimmy Rollins with the bases loaded and Shane Victorino followed with a sac fly.
But Pettitte settled down through the middle innings. He dominated the dangerous left-handed trio of Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, and Raul Ibanez. Howard, in fact, has gone 0-8 with seven strikeouts in the last two games.
Joba Chamberlain and Damaso Marte, of all people, retired all six batters they faced to build the bridge to the 9th. Joe Girardi decided to go with Phil Hughes, but after retiring the first batter, Hughes gave up a solo shot to Carlos Ruiz to make it a 3-run deficit. On came Mariano Rivera, who needed just five pitches to close the ball game out and give the Yankees their first series lead.
Pettitte’s RBI was the first game tying RBI by a Yankee pitcher since Jim Bouton during the 1964 series. Pettitte, Derek Jeter, and Mariano Rivera became the first trio to play in a World Series together 13 years apart. Pretty cool.
Hideki Matsui’s home run was ironic in that it was the first one he hit to the opposite field all season.
People are still marveling over the performance by A.J. Burnett in Game 2. Burnett has heard all the praise – plus fastball, wicked movement on breaking pitches, among the bestcurveballs in the game. He’s also heard all the negative- no heart, empty head, bad attitude. Burnett shook off the latter and a slow start and dominated thePhillies hitters for seven innings. It was actually surprising that Girardi didn’t send him out for the 8th inning so that Rivera wouldn’t have to go for a six out save.
CC Sabathia faces Joe Blanton tonight in Game 4. Sabathia will be working on three days rest for the second time in the post-season. Burnett is scheduled to face Game 1 winner Cliff Lee in Monday night’s Game 5.