Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Transplant One Right Here

Good news for Frank Torre, Joe's big bro. He found out this week that both his son and daughter are viable candidates to give him the kidney he so badly needs.

Bobby Murcer Finishes Up Treatment

My man Bobby Murcer finishes his chemotherapy treatment in Houston today. If all goes well, he's hoping to pop into Yankees camp before the end of spring training.

Bobby also has to mark his calendar on April 30. That's when Oklahoma City University will honor him with the Abe Lemons/Paul Hansen Award for Sports Excellence at their annual Sports Spectacular dinner and auction. The award is given to those who have helped sports grow in the state of Oklahoma.

Abreu Confident of Quick Return

Bobby Abreu's injured oblique was termed significant by GM Brian Cashman, but Abreu is confident he won't miss too much time.

"It will take a couple of weeks," a calm Abreu said with ear buds in yesterday morning in the Legends Field clubhouse. "I don't worry about (being ready for Opening Day). It was painful, but it will be better."

"You don't know it's going to get worse. Sometimes you feel something and it goes away, but not that one," Abreu said.

Abreu will be completely shutdown until there is marked improvement to the area. Joe Torre and Cashman reiterated their previous statements that Abreu's injury will not mean that Bernie Williams will be asked (begged) back.

Humberto Sanchez will be shutdown for 4 or 5 more days with a forearm strain and the Yankees are considering altering his delivery to alleviate future inflammation. (Update 2:05 pm - Peter Abrams of The Journal News is reporting that Sanchez is now likely to be shut down for the next 10 days).

Andy Pettitte will be playing golf with Roger Clemens today. There will probably be some conversation like this:

Andy: "Are you going with the 5-wood or a driver here?"

Roger: "If I had to decide today, I would have to say there's an 80% of me using the driver and a 20% of me using the 5-wood. Of course, I'm nowhere near making a decision."

At the point, hopefully Pettitte will hit Clemens over the head with his putter.

Maybe They Should X-ray His Head

Perhaps in a move to hasten his exit out of New York, Carl Pavano questioned his own commitment yesterday to recovering from the prior injuries he suffered.

"This is the first time I could say, 'I am just going to pick up where I left off,' " said Pavano, who has had plenty of experience returning from injuries the past two seasons. "In the past it has just been positive words. I don't know how committed I was. This time I am definitely ready to go."

It was bad enough that Pavano wasn't fully committed to getting back on the mound, but how dumb is this guy for admitting it? For now, Pavano is still expected to make his start against the Phillies on Sunday.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Igawa Dons the Pinstripes

Kei Igawa made his Yankees debut today...against his fellow teammates. Igawa was sharp as the Yankees had their first intrasquad game of the spring. The matchup featured the Yogis versus the Reggies.

Igawa faced 6 hitters, allowing an infield single to Brett Gardner and retiring 4 via groundouts. 14 of his 19 pitches were thrown for strikes.

Kaat, Others Held From Hall

Yankees manager Joe Torre and former broadcaster Jim Kaat are among the former players who failed to garner the 75% required vote to be elected to the Hall of Fame by the Veterans Committee. Ron Santo (69.5%) received the highest portion of the vote, but still fell 5 ballots shy of election.

Former umpire Doug Harvey and long time player union head Marvin Miller received the most votes for the non-player portion of the ballot, but still fell considerably short of election. The Veterans Committee has not elected anyone to the Hall since the voting changes were put in place in 2003.

Here is the complete vote tally:


Ron Santo5769.5%
Jim Kaat5263.4%
Gil Hodges5061.0%
Tony Oliva4757.3%
Maury Wills3340.2%
Joe Torre2631.7%
Don Newcombe1720.7%
Vada Pinson1619.5%
Roger Maris1518.3%
Lefty O'Doul1518.3%
Luis Tiant1518.3%
Others receiving votes:
Curt Flood (14, 17.1%), Al Oliver (14, 17.1%), Mickey Vernon (14, 17.1%), Minnie Minoso (12, 14.6%), Cecil Travis (12, 14.6%), Dick Allen (11, 13.4%), Marty Marion (11, 13.4%), Joe Gordon (10, 12.2%), Ken Boyer (9, 11%), Mickey Lolich (8, 9.8%), Wes Ferrell (7, 8.5%), Sparky Lyle (6, 7.3%), Carl Mays (6, 7.3%), Thurman Munson (6, 7.3%), Rocky Colavito (5, 6.1%) and Bobby Bonds (1, 1.2%)


Doug Harvey5264.2%
Marvin Miller5163.0%
Walter O'Malley3644.4%
Buzzie Bavasi3037.0%
Dick Williams3037.0%
Others receiving votes:
Whitey Herzog (29, 35.8%), Bill White (24, 29.6%), Bowie Kuhn (14, 17.3%), August Busch Jr. (13, 16%), Billy Martin (12, 14.8%), Charley O. Finley (10, 12.3%), Gabe Paul (10, 12.3%), Paul Richards (10, 12.3%), Phil Wrigley (9, 11.1%) and Harry Dalton (8, 9.9%)

Monday, February 26, 2007

Abreu Out With Strained Oblique

Bobby Abreu felt fine when he came out to hit today, but didn't feel so good shortly thereafter. Abreau is suffering from a strained oblique and will be out 1-2 weeks, according to Joe Torre.

Johnny Damon wasn't specific about why he had to leave camp, but he assured everyone that all was good.

The tests on Carl Pavano's foot revealed a bone bruise. He is listed as day-to-day.

Happy 74th to Johnny Blanchard!


12 Days. That's all it took for Carl Pavano to visit his old pals, X-ray and MRI. On Saturday, Pavano took a line drive off his left instep, off the bat of rookie Alberto Gonzalez, . Though he was able to finish throwing batting practice, the Yankees shut him down for Sunday's workout and sent him for precautionary tests. Pavano is one of several Yankee pitchers who do not throw behind an L screen during BP. Perhaps Brian Cashman should just have an X-ray machine in the same format as an L screen in order to kill two birds with one stone.

Johnny Damon was excused from weekend workouts due to a personal issue. Joe Torre did not know the specifics, but it was originally thought Damon would be out for an extended period of time. He's now expected to return today.

Pavano isn't the only one with some spring training aches and pains. Brian Bruney has been sidelined by back spasms in his rib cage area and Humberto Sanchez has been slowed by tightness in his right forearm. Sanchez has been on the DL 8 times in his young career and had his season ended early last August with elbow problems. Bruney is expected to be shutdown for 4-5 days, while Sanchez is going for a precautionary MRI.

Spring Training Rule #1
All Rookies must walk 2 paces behind the Captain

Friday, February 23, 2007

25 The Easy Way

Though the A-Rod-Jeter friendship and the whereabouts of Bernie Williams will linger throughout spring training, there isn't much speculation about who will be traveling north as part of the 25-man roster. Barring any injuries or other setbacks, the starting rotation, the ineup, and the bullpen are pretty much set in stone. That being said, we'll take a look at each position and who will be holding down the fort.


Starter - Jorge Posada; Posada starts his 13th season in pinstripes. He's averaged 135 appearances behind home plate the last 7 seasons. Jorgie turned 35 last August, but he has not experienced the offensive drop off (.277-23-94 in '06) that most catchers do at his age. He will become a free agent after this season and the Yankees have no immediate replacement for the long term.

Bench - Wil Nieves and Todd Pratt are the only 2 candidates with a shot at the job (veterans Raul Chavez and Ben Davis are both in camp, but are coming off injuries and are not being considered by Joe Torre). The 29-year old Nieves is a solid defensive catcher who has appeared in just 37 games over parts of 3 big league seasons. He's hit just .159 (13-82) over that time.

Pratt, who recently turned 40, has played 14 seasons, all of them in the National League. He's solid defensively, has an adequate bat, and has post-season experience (including facing the Yankees in the 2000 subway series).

Nieves is out of minor league options, but the feeling here is that Torre will go with the major league experienced Pratt.


1st Base - Doug Mientkiewicz was brought in this off-season for his defensive presence (ball-hawking ability?) and to be the left-hitting side of a platoon at first. Andy Phillips and Josh Phelps have both excelled at the minor league level, but neither has had the same success at the plate in the majors. The advantage here has to go to Phillips who proved himself to be a very good defensive 1st baseman last season. Phelps has only worn a 1st base glove in 31 big league games, spending the majority of his time at DH. Of course, Joe Torre could decide that neither is worth a roster spot, and could instead use Miguel Cairo as a backup 1st baseman. This would allow Torre to carry an extra outfielder or utility infielder.

2nd Base - Robinson Cano; The Cano Kid is coming off a fabulous sophomore season. Despite missing a month of the last season with a badly injured hamstring, Cano finished 3rd in the AL with a .342 average. He added 15 home runs and 78 RBI and he only turned 24 this past October. More importantly, his fielding percentage (.984) hopped up 10 points from the previous season.

Shortstop - Derek Jeter; El Capitan is coming of a season in which he had the 2nd highest average (.343) and RBI totals (97) of his career, and nabbed a career-best 34 steals. He was screwed out of the MVP award (like hell he wasn't!) in a season in which he won his 3rd Gold Glove, eclipsed 2,000 career hits, and hit .500 in the playoffs. From the "time flies" department - Jeter is in the 7th year of the 10 year deal he signed in 2001.

3rd Base - Alex Rodriguez; All eyes and ears will be on A-Rod again - and as usual it will mostly be for the wrong reason. It's hard to tell if he can do any right according to some Yankees fans who get carried away. There's no question he has been a playoff flop the last 2 seasons. He hasn't been alone in that respect, but that's gone largely unnoticed. He could go out and hit .330-50-140 during the regular season, but it will all be for naught if he doesn't succeed (and/or the team doesn't succeed) in the playoffs. As we all know by now, Yankees success is measured by World Series rings.

Utility - Miguel Cairo had a significant offensive drop off from his previous stint in pinstripes, but he still provided solid defense in backing up all four infield spots. The only way he'll get significant playing time is with an injury to a starter or if Torre decides to use him as the right-handed side of the platoon at 1st.

Designated Hitter - Jason Giambi has this one all to himself. He may take a seat against some lefties or when Matsui, Posada, etc., need a breather, but he'll get the bulk of the time here. The Yankees hope he can compile the numbers he did last season albeit with more consistency.


Left Field - Hideki Matsui; After not missing a game in his first 3 seasons in pinstripes, Hideki played just 51 regular season games in '06 after busting his wrist trying to catch a sinking shot off the bat of the Dead Sox's Mark Loretta. Two good things came out of that: Melky Cabrera got the chance to prove himself and, more importantly, Joe Torre no longer had to worry about Matsui's consecutive games playing streak. Though the Japanese media will still be all over him, Torre can now sit Matsui down for a game here and there to rest him or to get Melky some playing time. Hideki has topped the 100 RBI mark in each of his 3 full seasons and he should attain that figure again this year. His home run totals (16-31-23 in '03-'05') will hopefully be in the 30-35 range again.

Center Field - Johnny Damon; The Head Idiot in Boston made a smooth transition to Yankees pinstripes last season. He was one of the most consistent players all season and sacrificed his body (nagging shoulder and foot injuries) numerous times defensively. Damon hit a career-high 24 home runs and had his highest steal total in 3 years. It would not be surprising to see Damon swipe 35-40 bases this season, health permitting. Damon has also quickly stepped forward as a team spokesman.

Right Field - Bobby Abreu never liked being the big man on campus in Philly, so he didn't mind coming to a team where he was just one of the guys. Though he will probably be in the clean up spot, Abreu won't have the same spotlight he had with the Phillies.
Expectations were sky-high for Abreu after slugging 18 HR and 53 RBI by the '05 All-Star break, and he then went on to win the Home Run Derby during the festivities. But he slumped miserably afterwards, beginning his path out of town.

Abreu hit a torrid .330 after coming over from the Phils at the trade deadline (seriously, how did the Devil Rays deal this guy for Kevin Stocker???) and he provided better defense than Gary Sheffield had lately. There are balls that fall in that it appears Abreu should get to, but he does a decent job of tracking the ball and he has a strong arm.

4th Outfielder - Melky Cabrera was rushed to the majors in 2005 as the Yankees looked for a solution to their center field woes. He was nowhere near ready and one had to wonder if he would ever wear the major league uni again (it also made those of us who had predicted great things for him look bad). With another year under his belt, Melky blossomed last season. In addition to displaying dazzling defensive skills (see below), Melky showed great patience at the plate, fitting right in with the Yankees' approach to being patient. In addition to his 56 walks, Melky struck out just 59 times and swiped 12 bases. All that and he's still only 22.

Starting Rotation

Andy Pettitte
returns home after a 3-year stint with the Astros. He may be here for just 1 year, but he and the team agreed on a mutual option for 2008 that could keep him here beyond that. He's definitely the anti-Randy Johnson. The guy wants to be here, he knows how to win, he isn't afraid of the spotlight, and he's a leader.

Mike Mussina returns with a new 2-year deal after his initial 6-year deal ran out. Moose was off to a blazing start last season before arm trouble cropped up. The Yankees will rely heavily on him and Pettitte to shoulder (pun most definitely intended) a big portion of the load.

Chien-Ming Wang, the pride and joy of Tainan, Taiwan emerged as the ace of the staff last season. His 97 mph sinker helped him win 19 games in his 2nd season in the bigs. One year after his season was shortened by shoulder issues, Wang compiled 218 innings and even picked up a big save when the bullpen was short on arms. Wang is 27-11, 3.77 in his 1st two years in the majors.

Carl Pavano already complained of "heavy" legs this spring and sat out a day of workouts. Despite the turmoil that his surrounded him in his first two years here, the Yankees are heavily counting on Pavano to step up this season. That being said, it would not be surprising if the Yankees move him. Of course, that all depends on finding someone who is willing to pick up a chunk of his salary.

Kei Igawa was not known to 99.9% of Yankees fans prior to this off-season. That all changed when the Yankees overbid $25 million for him in hopes that he was better than the free agents that were available in the U.S. (Ted Lilly, Gil Meche...). Igawa then signed a 4-year, $20 mill deal to be the 4th or 5th starter. Is he the next Irabu or Wang? Who knows?


Mariano Rivera - The pen starts and finishes with their future Hall Of Fame closer. Mo is a quiet guy, but he made plenty of noise already this spring when he said he wouldn't be averse to playing elsewhere after this season if the Yankees don't - (I hate doing this) - "show him the money". Every Yankees fan knows the team should do just that, but for now we'll take a healthy Mo. Joe Torre has already said Mo will strictly be a 1-inning pitcher during the regular season so he can try to avoid the shoulder strain that occurred last season.

Kyle Farnsworth - 99 mph fastball, 99 year old back. Farnsworth showed last year that the torque it took to unleash his heater caused his back to stiffen up the next day. With Rivera on a 1 inning limit, one has to wonder how many nights both of them will not be available.

Scott Proctor - It's a wonder this spring that Proctor didn't report to camp with his right arm hanging down by his foot. Proctor was overused by Torre to the tune of 102.3 innings over 83 games. He'll be heavily counted on again to fill the bridge to Mariano.

Mike Myers - It would surprise me greatly if Myers is still on the roster at year end. The lefty specialist was brought in primarily to face David Ortiz (2-9, 3-run HR, 1 BB), which he did with decent results. However, Myers pitched just 30 2-3 innings in 62 appearances. While the Yankees will have 12 pitchers to start the season, the roster would have much more versatility by carrying 11. A versatile lefty, such as teammate Ron Villone, would be a greater addition to the squad.

Ron Villone - It first appeared that Villone would not be back this season. The Yankees front office wouldn't budge off of their offer of 1 year, while Villone was hoping to land a 2 year deal somewhere. After turning down the Yankees offer of arbitration, Villone came up empty and settled for a minor league deal and an invite to camp. Villone was another victim of the Torre overuse disease. After being the forgotten man in the pen to start the season, it seemed like he was throwing every day during the summer. The result was a decline in production in the stretch run.

Luis Vizcaino - The hard-throwing veteran was acquired in the Randy Johnson deal and will be counted on to take some of the pressure off of Scott Proctor. There's a possibility he could be moved if the Yankees decide they would rather have both Brian Bruney and Chris Britton in the pen.

Brian Bruney and Chris Britton are likely battling for the final spot in the pen unless Torre decides to go with just one lefthander. While both look like they could be defensive linemen in the NFL, they both throw very hard and Bruney did an excellent job after being cast adrift by the Dbacks last season (I know it's not just me who wishes the Dbacks fail in every aspect after the 2001 WS). Britton, acquired for Jaret Wright, could be the sleeper in all of this. The Orioles needed a starting pitcher, but may have made a mistake in giving up Britton. Britton's rookie season saw him limit batters to a .228 average, while compiling a 1.17 WHIP.

On the outside looking in: TJ Beam, Colter Bean, Darrel Rasner, and Jeffrey Karstens. The first two are not likely to make the bullpen to start the season and one of the latter two could make the rotation if Pavano is dealt or falters. For now, they should be pitching every 5th day at Columbus (though Rasner may end up in the pen, with Hughes and Sanchez on the squad).

Thursday, February 22, 2007

RIP Dennis Johnson

Need to go off-topic for a moment to send condolences to the family of former NBA star Dennis Johnson (You may wonder how a Yankees fan roots for the Boston Celtics, but that is a whole other story).

DJ passed away today, from an apparent heart attack, at age 52. He had been coaching in the league's developmental program. DJ won NBA titles with the both the Celtics (1984, 1986) and the Seattle Supersonics (1979, series MVP).

DJ played in 1,100 games over 14 seasons and was one of the top defensive guards in the game.

Rest in peace DJ.

Batter Up

Joe Torre and the Yankee fans got their first look today at the Yankees hitters against the Yankees own pitchers. The arms included the proposed starting five - Chien-Ming Wang, Mike Mussina, Andy Pettitte, Carl Pavano, and Kei Igawa - along with stud prospects Philip Hughes and Humberto Sanchez.

Jason Giambi was among those participating after announcing that his surgically repaired wrist was tired, but fit.

Hughes received rave reviews from Giambi, catcher Todd Pratt, and coach Larry Bowa. The Yankees also got their first look at Ross Ohlendoff, who was acquired in the Unit deal.

Philip Hughes and Humberto Sanchez are two of the candidates for the rotation this year and beyond.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Torre Among Names Considered for Hall

Among this year's names being considered by the Veteran's Committee for induction into the baseball hall of fame is current Yankees manager Joe Torre. Torre played 18 seasons in the majors, compiling a .297 average, 252 home runs, 1,185 RBI, and the 1971 NL MVP award. Torre has an excellent shop at reaching the hall as a manager once he retires, but the former catcher and third baseman is not likely to make it as a player.

The player's portion of this year's ballot includes long-time fan favorite Gil Hodges, non-steroid home run champion Roger Maris. The ballot also includes 15 "composite" candidates, comprised of owners, broadcasters, etc...One of the candidates getting a lot of push to be elected is former player's union head Marvin Miller. Miller is at the forefront of those who helped form today's free agency. Of course free agency may not have happened without the courage of Curt Flood to buck the system. Flood is also on the ballot.

A number of persons associated with the Yankees are also on the ballot. In addition to Torre and Maris, "The Captain", Thurman Munson, former player and manager Billy Martin, former broadcaster Bill White, and former team president Gabe Paul are all on the ballot.

Results of the balloting will be announced on February 27.

Billy Martin and Thurman Munson are among this year's Veterans Committee nominees

2007 Veterans Committee Nominees:

Dick Allen
Bobby Bonds
Ken Boyer
Rocky Colavito
Wes Ferrell
Curt Flood
Joe Gordon
Gil Hodges
Jim Kaat
Mickey Lolich
Sparky Lyle
Marty Marion
Roger Maris
Carl Mays
Minnie Minoso
Thurman Munson
Don Newcome
Lefty O'Doul
Tony Oliva
Al Oliver
Vada Pinson
Ron Santo
Luis Tiant
Joe Torre
Cecil Travis
Mickey Vernon
Maury Wills

Buzzie Bavasi
August Busch Jr.
Harry Dalton
Charlie Finley
Doug Harvey
Whitey Herzog
Bowie Kuhn
Billy Martin
Marvin Miller
Walter O'Malley
Gabe Paul
Paul Richards
Bill White
Dick Williams
Phil Wrigley

Jeter: There is no rift

One day after Alex Rodriguez "came clean" about the state of his friendship with Derek Jeter, the captain responded that there is no rift between the two. Jeter also bristled somewhat when asked about the 2001 Esquire interview that reportedly soured the friendship between the two.

"I'm not bringing up our relationship away from the field. I haven't brought up the Esquire magazine article since it came up. That's something I haven't talked about. I haven't brought it up."

"All right today you say you hate me and tomorrow I'll say I don't know what you're talking about"

"Has our relationship changed? I've had a lot of relationships change over the years. But what we do away from the field, how much time we spend together really makes no difference when we're playing."

Jeter went on to say that their relationship off the field doesn't matter, and that things are solid on the field.

"Alex never sensed a lack of support from me," Jeter said. "That's something we talked about. Just because you guys don't know about it doesn't mean we haven't spoken. Alex does not sense a lack of support. We talked about that from day 1."

Jeter also downplayed the significance of A-Rod's talk with the media yesterday,

"You have to ask him. I didn't bring it up. You have to ask him if it's a good idea to get it out of the way. To me it was never an issue I felt we needed to talk about."

Now if only the media would let go of this soap opera - because frankly it really doesn't matter.

No Bern Baby Bernie

As expected, Bernie Williams was a no-show in camp yesterday, the required date for position players.

Jason Giambi reported to camp and said he was fine with the Yankees' plan to make him the full-time DH. "It's more important for me to win and be in a World Series," Giambi said. "Whatever the team needs, that's what's going to be best."

Giambi also delivered the early quote of the year when asked about the odds on Roger Clemens returning to the Yankees. "Andy (Pettitte)'s your guy. They share the same lung."

Monday, February 19, 2007

Man Your Battle Stations

It's President's Day, which means it's time for the Yankees position players to report to camp. The biggest focus today will be on who isn't there, primarily Bernie Williams. Joe Torre was planing on reach out to Bernie one more time via phone to try to get him to camp. Veterans like Jorge Posada and Mariano Rivera want Bernie to be there, but they also understand the business side of things. Posada called Bernie several times over the weekend, but was unable to reach him.

"I got it...I got you, no you"

Andy Phillips
. Phillips isn't too concerned though. His wife has recently undergone chemotherapy for a rare cancer caused by a molar pregnancy. It has certainly kept things in perspective for him.

"I've learned a lot in the last year with the kind of stuff I had to deal with my wife," Phillips said. "Things kind of shake out the way they're going to shake out. That's what you've got to hang onto and trust."

The current plan is for Phillips to battle Josh Phelps for the right-handed side of a platoon with Doug Mientkiewicz. That could all change if Bernie Williams was to make the team. In all likelihood it would mean no platoon and the Yankees would carry 5 outfielders.

"I'm looking forward to trying to win a job, no matter what," Phillips said. "That's no different this year than in the past.

"I'm trying not to think about situations and circumstances, because if you do that, more obstacles get in your way", Phillips added. "You just try to go out and play, and hope your performance dictates what happens."

Since he arrived in 2004, Alex Rodriguez has constantly fielded questions about his relationship with Derek Jeter. That status quo has always been a variation on everything is good between us. A-Rod has finally come clean, admitting that the once strong relationship has cooled off quite a bit.

"People start assuming that things are a lot worse than what they are, which they're not. But they're obviously not as great as they used to be. We were like blood brothers," Rodriguez said Monday. "You don't have to go to dinner with a guy four, five times a week to do what you're doing. It's actually much better than all you guys expect, but I just want to let the truth be known."

Things noticeably changed after A-Rod's 2001 Esquire interview when he downplayed Jeter's importance to the Yankee's championship run.

"We were best of friends about 10, 13, 14, years ago, and we still get along well. We have a good working relationship. I cheer very hard for him. He cheers hard for me. And most importantly, we're both trying to win a world championship," Rodriguez said.

In not so many words, A-Rod feels that he and Jeter have simply grown apart. He maybe wishes he and the media could do the same.

"Let's make a contract: You don't ask me about Derek anymore, and I promise I'll stop lying to all you guys," A-Rod told reporters.

"Doug Mientkiewicz autographs a ball...or is he keeping it?"

Saturday, February 17, 2007


80/20 - that the's the retirement - keep playing percentages spouted off by Mr. Waffle himself, Roger Clemens. Clemens worked out with his son Koby at Astros camp yesterday and was queried by the younger Clemens as to his playing status.

20% means there's a 100% chance we will continue to have to listen to Clemens's speculation about his retirement.


Thank you!

Mussina Apologizes; Stands by His Words

Mike Mussina apologized yesterday for the way his comments about Carl Pavano were handled in the press, but Mussina did not apologize for what he said. In an interview with Mike and the Mad Dog Mussina said he met with Pavano for 15 minutes yesterday morning and cleared the air about his remarks. Moose characterized it as a good meeting and hoped that Pavano came away from it with some understanding.

One of the topics that has been at the forefront of Spring Training has been Mariano Rivera's future. When asked about it, Mussina said that while he realizes that the Yankees don't negotiate during the spring or the season (including his own contract status last year), exceptions can be made and one should definitely be made in the case of Mariano. Moose cannot see a future Yankees team without the future hall of fame closer.

Moose also was asked about Alex Rodriguez and didn't back down from the stance he made last season. Mussina knows that A-Rod is one of the greatest talents off all time, but he needs to stop worrying about every little aspect of the game at every single moment. Basically in not so many words, Moose said A-Rod had to stop being so anal.

Finally, Mussina discusses his own future. He's approaching 250 wins, a mark he will have achieved without ever winning 20 games in a season. No other pitcher has ever reached that total without accomplishing the season feat. And while 300 wins would be a great accomplishment, Moose said he would not just "hang around" to reach that total.

Friday, February 16, 2007

MLB News - 2/16

Keith Foulke, who was a major part of the Red Sox end to the "Curse of the Bambino" has decided to call it quits. Foulke had signed with the Cleveland Indians this past off-season, but after feeling discomfort in his throwing elbow, he has decided to call it quits. Foulke missed most of the last 2 seasons with injuries.

Former Yankee and current Giants pitching coach Dave Righetti has only just started to work with newcomer Barry Zito, but is already concerned. Zito changed his delivery during the off-season (was Rick Peterson in on this?). After adding 10 pounds of muscle to his legs and core, Zito has lengthened his delivery. Righetti feels the new style will wear him down quicker.

Dmitri Young was released by the Detroit Tigers during last season's stretch drive due to his antics on and off the field. The Washington Nationals have decided to give "The Meathook" a new life in DC by signing him to a minor league deal.

Jorge De Paula has moved on from the Yankees after failing to fully recover from Tommy John surgery over the last 2 seasons.

Spring Training Photo of the Day - 2/15

Philip Hughes gets in his daily throws as Joe Torre looks on. Will both be members of the '08 team?

George Won't Like That

Steve Swindal, son-in-law of George Steinbrenner and heir to the throne to head the Yankees was arrested early Thursday morning for driving while impaired. Swindal was driving 61 mph in a 35 mph zone in St. Petersburg, when his careless driving nearly caused a collision with a local cop. Swindal refused a breathalyzer test and failed a sobriety test. He was booked on DUI charges and will have to appear in court on March 13.

The only amusing part of this story is when 1050 ESPN radio reported this as a "distraction" to the Yankees spring training. About as distracting as George Constanza running around the outfield as "Bodysuit Man".

You Gotta Have Heart...and Kidney

One of the biggest side stories of the Yankees return to the world series in 1996 was the heart transplant of Joe Torre's big brother Frank. Now a little over 10 years later, Frank is in need of a new kidney due to the immunosuppresant drugs he's taken for his new heart.

"My heart is only 38 years old," Frank Torre told the newspaper, laughing. "The problem is, my body's 75. I'll be the bionic man by the time they're done with me."

Doctors are hoping that one of Frank Torre's relatives are a match. There was speculation yesterday that his daughter Elizabeth may be a good candidate.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to Frank Torre and his family for a new kidney and a speedy recovery.

Mussina Rips Pavano...Again

The question of Carl Pavano's heart and guts came up again yesterday, and just as he did as last month's Thurman Munson Awards dinner, Mike Mussina took the opportunity to rip his teammate. "He needs to show a lot of people he wants to pitch for us" Mussina said. When asked if Pavano would get the benefit of the doubt, Moose responded, "Not yet, I want to see if he wants to do it.

Pavano only matters worse yesterday when he stupidly blamed the media for blowing things out of proportion. The media is no doubt filled with idiots, but it is truly amazing how many athletes try to use them as an excuse for their moronic or questionable behavior.

More from Moose- "He is looking at it with his perspective and we are looking at it with ours," Mussina said. "He has to show us he wants to pitch. Maybe once the whole team gets here he will look at it differently but I don't know how he will be treated by everyone."

"6 letter for wuss.. P _ _ A _ O"

"I don't know how widespread it is but from another starting pitcher who hasn't been 100 percent all of the last two years, I know what it takes to pitch and I know when you can't go out and pitch," Mussina said. "Some times it is a fine line. After 15 years, I know where the line is."

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Yankees Honor Lidle

The Yankees have announced that they will honor the memory of Corey Lidle by wearing black armbands on their shirt sleeves this season. No player will be assigned Lidle's number 30 either.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Villone Back in the Fold

Ron Villone passed on the Yankees arbitration offer, in hopes of getting a 2-year deal somewhere. That didn't work out so well, so today Villone signed a minor league contract to return to the Bombers. With Mike Myers as the only established lefty reliever in camps, the Yankees need Villone more than he needs them.

Spring Training Jeopardy

"I'll Take Unsolved Mysteries for $200 Alex"

"The answer is..."

"What is the team A-Rod will play for after he opts out of his contract?"

Alex Trebek: "Correct"

Alex Rodriguez has spent the past three season in Yankees pinstripes. To categorize them as yo-yo like would be an understatement. There was the blown 3-0 lead to the Red Sox (which of course went well beyond his fault) in the 2004 ALCS. The 2005 MVP season was followed up by a disappearing act against the Angels in the divisional series. And last year was an out and out disaster. When a player hits .290-35-121, that's really saying something. Yes, the Yankees won the AL East, but they were blitzed in the division series by the Tigers. After going 2-15 the prior year, the best player in the game followed that up with a 1-14 performance. He was a psychological mess the entire year. There's no question in my mind that some Yankees fans will never given A-Rod the approval he seeks. Part of it, of course, is because of A-Rod's own actions and words. A perfect example would be when he told reporters last season that he was playing hurt, and then refused to specify what the injury was.

With Scott Boras as his agent, there's no question that A-Rod will do some serious soul searching and most likely will opt out of his contract. With the recent contracts given out to Alfonso Soriano, JD Drew, and others, Boras will definitely be pushing for it.

"I'll Take Unsolved Mysteries for $400 Alex"

"The answer is..."

"Who are candidates to replace Joe Torre?"

Alex Trebek: "Correct Again"

Who else could make George cry?!

There's always an outside chance Torre could stick around longer if he and King George decide it's not time. Obviously there is no managerial contract beyond the 2007 season at this point. I think Torre has done a tremendous job since he's been here, but I for one felt that maybe it was time for a change after the 2006 campaign. Joe has made some odd and poor decisions since the 2003 World Series when he let that idiot Jeff Weaver actually get on the mound. That being said, I did NOT want Lou Piniella coming back to the Bronx. No Bobby Valentine, no Larry Bowa, no Lee Mazzilli. So I'm glad Torre will get the chance to finish his contract. Beyond that, I can't honestly see Don Mattingly stepping in as manager in 2008. I love Donnie Baseball, but I don't know if he would be ready for a big step like that. I'd rather see Joe Girardi get the job.

"I'll Take Unsolved Mysteries for $600 Alex"

"The answer is..."

"What is the title of Bernie Williams' next album?"

Alex Trebek: "We'll accept that."

Heir to Mantle and Clapton?

Bernie Williams is da man. His number 51 will be retired; he'll have his day in front of the Stadium faithful. And as much as it pains me to say it, it's time to begin that retirement now. He had a good season in 2006. Not fantastic, not horrible, just good. He's clearly not the same hitter, especially from the left side, and he doesn't have the speed to roam centerfield any more. He doesn't have the arm of a corner outfielder. The bat is slower, the legs aren't as quick, the body aches - it happens to the best of them. The Yankees need to let a young guy like Melky Cabrera develop as a 4th outfielder, with an eye on possibly starting one day. Here's to all the success in the world for Bernie as the next great guitar God.

"I'll Take Unsolved Mysteries for $800 Alex"

"The answer is..."

"What is the minimum numbers of wins it'll take to win the AL East?"

Alex Trebek: "Yes! We would have also accepted, 'the minimum number of days Carl Pavano will be on the DL."

Pitching will be the key as usual to having another banner year

I'm figuring the Yankees will get 47 wins out of Chien-Ming Wang (17), Andy Pettitte (17), and Mike Mussina (13). That leaves another 48-51 wins to be picked up by the combination of Carl Pavano, Kei Igawa, whoever else steps in, and the bullpen. It's most likely the AL East runner-up misses out on the AL wildcard, so the Yankees are going to have to push to the finish. Boston will have rebounded and Toronto gained a lot of confidence last season.

"I'll Take Unsolved Mysteries for $1000 Alex"

"The answer is..."

"What is what Roger Clemens won't be wearing in the Hall of Fame if he plays for the Red Sox again"

Alex Trebek: "Great job, you ran the category!"

Hmmm, should I stay or should I go now...

Roger Clemens has already started his "I don't know what I'm doing this year" game. What is clear is that the Yankees, Red Sox, and Astros are the only 3 teams that Clemens would consider pitching for. And one thing is even clearer than that. If Clemens returns to Boston he can forget EVER wearing a Yankees cap in the Hall of Fame. As it is he should be wearing a Red Sox hat since that is where he made his career.

And give the Hummer back too!

One Mo Contract

Mariano Rivera reported to Yankee's camp a day earlier than necessary yesterday and it was quite clear from his comments that the Bernie Williams situation was weighing on his mind. Mo is in the final year of a 3 year deal and thus far there has been no contact from the Yankees regarding the future. More precisely, Mo realizes that a similar situation could happen to him. He would like to avoid that and hopes the Yankees show him the respect he's earned.

"If they want to talk, we're willing to listen," Rivera said Monday following a pre-spring training workout. "But I'm going to bring nothing to the table. I'm just going to focus on what I have to do and see what happens. I have a contract for this year. That's what matters. All I have to do is focus on this season. I just have to worry about being able to help the team as much as I can."

A healthy and "ready to go" Mariano Rivera works out in Tampa

"I know that I have one more year, that is this year," Rivera said. "After that year, I don't know what's going to happen. Definitely I want to finish my career here, but if they don't give the respect that I deserve, I have to move on.

Gotta go to Mo!

"The Yankees always give me the respect," Rivera added. "When the time comes, if they want me back, they want me back. Otherwise, I'm not going to sit in my house crying. I have to move on."

Here's to hoping the Yankees do the right thing before this season is over.

Friday, February 9, 2007

Bernie Leaning Towards No

Newsday's Jim Baumbauch spoke with Bernie tonight, moments before the veteran outfielder was to perform as part of a benefit concert in Connecticut. When asking about the Yankees spring training invite, Bernie indicated that he was leaning towards declining the invite since it pretty much says the Yankees really don't want him. Baumbach then contacted Yankee's GM Brian Cashman for comment. Cashman said he understood Bernie's unwillingness to accept a minor league deal.

It's not a Robin

But we'll take it!

Yankees Great Hank Bauer Dead at 84

Hank Bauer the longtime Yankees great has passed away at age 84 due to cancer. Bauer, the onetime marine, played for the Yankees from 1948 thru 1959. He was dealt to Kansas City prior to the 1959 season in the deal that brought Roger Maris to the Yankees. He served as manager for two seasons with the A's, including a year as player/manager in 1961. He won a World Series title at the helm of the Baltimore Orioles in 1966 as part of his 5 seasons there and finished up his managerial career with one year in Oakland (1969). He won 594 games in his 8 seasons as a manager.

But Bauer will best be remembered as the hard-nosed outfielder for the Yankees. He was a member of 9 World Series teams, winning 7 championship rings in the process. He had a lifetime
.277 average over 14 years in the big leagues and was always a crowd favorite at Old-Timer's day. He was also one of the Yankees involved in the famous Copacabana incident that helped lead to the trade of Billy Martin.

Bauer had cartilage removed from throat in 1993 after first being diagnosed with cancer. His voice was raspy, but he was still the fun loving Hank Bauer. He will certainly be sorely missed.

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Diamondbacks Hire Mel Stottelmyre

The Arizona Diamondbacks have hired former Yankee player and coach Mel Stottlemyre as a spring training instructor, and will also work the team's pitchers during the season. Mel's son Mel Jr., who pitched for the Royals and Astros, is the team's minor league pitching coordinator. Mel's son Todd was a member of the Diamondbacks for 3 seasons.

Good luck to a guy who was one of the few bright spots during the declinasty days of the late '60s/early 70's, and an integral part of the Yankees 4 World Series wins during the '96-'00 stretch.

Murderer's Row

This year marks the 80th anniversary of arguably the greatest team in baseball history. The 1927 Yankees led by Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig slugged their way to a then record 110 wins. The Philadelphia A's finished a distant 19 games back with 91 victories. Lead by Ruth's 60 home runs, which was more than any team total, the Yankee's 158 home runs was more than a third of the league total of 439 (The A's had the next highest total with just 56). Yankee's opponents managed only 42 home runs.

These two made Manny and Big Papi look like little leaguers

Gehrig drove in 175 runs, which amazingly would only be the 2nd highest total of his career. He and Ruth provided an unparalleled 1-2 punch. The Iron Horse's 47 home runs were more than 4 other teams and he and Ruth combined for 339 RBI. They didn't do too poorly hitting for average either as Gehrig hit a torrid .373 and Ruth a not-too-shabby, .356 (Harry Heilmann lead the lead at .398). They both walked over 100 times as well. They weren't alone though. The lineup also included fellow Hall of Famers Tony Lazzeri (.383-18-102) and Earl Combs (.356).

The team's hitters have always been talked about, but not much attention has been paid to the teams pitchers. The Yankees had a league best 3.20 ERA. There was no Cy Young award in those days, but future Hall of Famer Waite Hoyt certainly could have won it. Hoyt completed 23 of his 32 starts in compiling a 22-7 record with a 2.63 ERA. Urban Shocker (18 and what a great name), Hall of Famer Herb Pennock (19) and Wilcy Moore (19) nearly joined him. Saves were not a category back then, but baseball historians have mined through the stats and determined that Moore had 13 of them in addition to his very good win total and a league best 2.28 ERA.

Mention of course has to be made of the manager as well. Miller Huggins, who was inducted in 1964, took the Yankees to their first 6 World Series. If today's media existed back then, he probably would have fallen into the same trap as Joe Torre. "All he has to do is fill out the lineup card". If only it were that simple. Huggins' died less than a month after the conclusion of the 1929 season. He was just 51.

Needless to say the World Series was no contest. The Yankees swept a Pittsburgh Pirates team that was lead by the Lloyd Waner, Paul Waner and Pie Traynor. Ruth slugged the series only 2 home runs and drove in a team high 7 runs. Shortstop Mark Koenig hit .500 (9-18). Moore saved Game 1 and pitched a complete game in the series final game.

Murderer's Row indeed...this team could scare the hell out of anyone.

Monday, February 5, 2007

Monday Morning Centerfielder

They're saying Moooooovers

Before getting down to Yankees business, a quick congratulations to Tony Dungy, Peyton Manning, and the Indy Colts. It was an entertaining, sloppy game at times, and a close one. Good commercials too. Oh, and I did predict 26-17, not bad. I now have bragging rights with myself.

Pavano says he's ready to go

Should we get a marching band? Hire a skywriter? Carl, or Carlotta as we prefer to refer to you as, excuse us for not doing cartwheels. If you haven't heard what is causing my ire, Carl Pavano announced to the media last week that he felt physically strong and ready to go after changing his physical workouts. Notice there was no mention of his mental readiness.

I wonder if you can sprain your eyelash?

Reports are that Bernie Williams is leaning towards accepting the Yankee's spring training invite. Matt DeSalvo, who had been dropped from the 40 man roster last week, was signed to a minor league deal and given an invite to spring training.

Friday, February 2, 2007

The Last Hurrah

This Sunday is Super Bowl XLI, which means football will be done (seek professional help if oyu think the Pro Bowl is meaningful), and baseball can't be far behind. Here's to a Colt's victory. It's not that I care about either team, but it would be nice to see Peyton Manning win. That and the Bears are probably the most boring Super Bowl team ever. Rex Grossman doesn't like the criticism, but even Eli Manning doesn't make such a big swing from bad to good in the same game. Most of all let's just hope it's a good game. The build up usually isn't as good as the game.

Also here's to hoping no one sounds as corny as when Paul McCartney yelled out, "How ya doing Super Bowl?"

Prediction - Colts 26 Bears 17

Thursday, February 1, 2007

Ringing in the New Year

Roger Clemens' annual version of "Should I stay or should I go now" is now in full bloom. Clemens was the keynote speaker at last night's St. Johns University winter baseball banquet. The Rocket talked about his "failure at retirement" and that there was no way that he would be ready to pitch by May. That is if he decides to comeback...again.

Should I have the chicken or fish?
Damn, I hate decisions!

As he has before, Clemens reiterated how hard it is to make the commitment and to get into playing shape. He said the chance for another World Series ring in October could be a motivating factor.

Philip Hughes (only one 'l' - I remembered!) has already had his 2007 season limited by the Yankees. Hughes, who has already drawn comparison to Clemens by Jorge Posada, is to be kept under 180 innings pitched.