Yardbarker Nav Bar

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

From The Fens: To Gehenna With You

Happy New Year to our readers. While Yankee fans exult over this free agent season, Boston fans aren't exactly breaking out the champagne.

As promised, from the shadows of Fenway Park, here's
Red Sox fan Bob Ekstrom's take on the Mark Teixeira signing:

After a Christmas week crushed under the carbon footprint of my visiting daughter and the gold thumbs of Hal & Hank Steinbrenner, yesterday was a good day. I got my daughter to the airport and the Red Sox finally signed a couple of free agents, so I've survived the holidays, albeit a little worse for the wear.

Waiting for 30-minute showers and $180-million contract talk to end can try even the most patient of father and fan, but the days when I was either are over. That bubble popped three years ago when I stood knee-deep in the wrapping paper remnants of my daughter's Christmas list, numbed to this paternal joy by the recent defection of Johnny Damon.

So there I was again this Christmas, seated in a hard wooden pew at morning service befuddled as to how Yawkey Way got jujitsued out of Mark Teixeira. The sermon was reveling in the purity of this day and urged us all to fight its exploitation by the forces of greed. Suddenly, its words shone brighter than my downstairs after my daughter got up for a snack in the middle of the night: the Yankees are killing Christmas and should be cast into Gehenna where there will be much wailing and grinding of teeth.

I'm sorry, Lisa, but if you prefer we drop the 'Evil' when referencing The Empire, you must first stop sabotaging our traditional New England Christmases. It's not enough for you to sign the winter's top three free agents. No, you have to grab the last just two days before Christmas. You've taken Whoville's toys, our ornaments, and now, with the Teixeira signing, our rare Who roast beast under the cloak of night.

Everyone knows Johnny Damon wasn't worth $52 million; signing the iconic idiot was just for the mantelpiece. Teixeira is another matter. He offers considerable worth to both teams, and Theo Epstein's inertia here is inexcusable. Theo fell in line with all those pundits lulled into complacency by Yankee smokescreens, and the whole band of them were sent wandering around December like Spinal Tap looking for the stage in Cleveland.

Maybe The Empire has had the better this offseason, but as long as there are Whos gathered round the tree on a barren Christmas morning, so too can Red Sox Nation rebound. And we have with the inking of Brad Penny and Josh Bard.

That's right . . . Penny and Bard.

Although he doesn't have the potential of an A.J. Burnett, it's even money that a healthy Penny will perform as well as Burnett for one year, making him a low cost countermeasure to the Yankee signing. Besides, as ERA goes, 6.27 is the new 3.75. He's also hit .231 over the last two seasons, making it easier to bring back Jason Varitek. Every fifth day, Francona can DH in the catcher's slot to avail himself of Penny's more potent bat.

Speaking of which, we now know how Theo could non-tender back-up catcher Kevin Cash, where those hairy green Empire fingers dropped from the fireplace to snatch him like some crumb too small for a mouse. Good friend Josh Bard - who was run out of town in 2006 after allowing ten passed balls in seven appearances with Tim Wakefield - is back again. It's not every day a catcher is pursued for his ability to play balls off the wall.

So pause, Evil Empire. Put your hand to your ear and hear the sound rising over the snow. The sound sounds merry, though it couldn't be so.

It's the song of Red Sox Nation, happy with the bare tree we stand around, hand in hand, celebrating our coupon-clipping GM.

Fah who for-aze! Dah who dor-aze!

To read Ekstrom's previous Subway Squawkers Hot Stove dispatch, click here.

What do you think? Leave us a comment! And have a happy - and safe - new year!

Squawker media alert: I will be on the radio Friday

Hope everybody had a cool holiday season. I'm back in action, just in time to kick 2008 to the curb. And I will be squawking on Sound-Off With Sinkoff this Friday at 4:10 p.m. The show airs on Albany's ESPN 104.5 The Team. Click here to listen live to the show online.

Free agent season aside, 2008 was a lousy year for the Yankees, the Jets (sorry, Squawker Jon), the economy, and for Roger Clemens. The magazine Texas Monthly named the Rocket their Bum Steer - make that Bum Steeroid - of the year. Given that Clemens is all about Texas pride, that's gotta hurt. Fortunately for Yankee fans, the article emphasizes him being an Astro instead of a Bomber.

I still can't quite believe that the Yanks got Mark Teixeira. And Squawker reader/Red Sox fan Bob Ekstrom is still coming to grips with the signing as well. Come back later today to read his take on the signing.

What do you think of the state of the Yankees? Leave us a comment!

Monday, December 29, 2008

Andruw Jones? Say it ain't so!

At first, I wasn't worried that ESPN's Buster Olney was reporting that the Mets were interested in Dodger disaster Andruw Jones, still owed something like $15M in salary and $7.1M in bonuses for one more year of his dubious services. After all, if you're going to get someone to take Luis Castillo, you have to take back someone the other team can't wait to get rid of.

And then Olney writes:

But it's unlikely that the Dodgers would have interest in Castillo, because they have a young second baseman in Blake DeWitt, and Castillo does not play a lot of different positions.

First of all, DeWitt was primarily a third baseman last year. According to baseball-reference.com, DeWitt played 95 games at third and 27 at second. So even if the Dodgers are planning to use him at second after acquiring Casey Blake, he does have another position if the Dodgers got Castillo.

No, the real reason the Dodgers are unlikely to have interest in Castillo is that it is unlikely that ANY major league team would have interest in Castillo at his salary.

But for the Dodgers to even mention trading Jones without taking back Castillo is just plain insulting.

In fact, the Mets might actually be better off with Castillo than Jones.

Andruw Jones hit .158 last year in 209 at bats. .158! A full 42 points below the Mendoza Line.

Pedro Martinez isn't exactly the Sultan of Swat, and he hit .154 in 2008. Johan Santana spent his whole career before 2008 in a league with the DH, and he managed to hit .141.

But the real comparison is with Castillo, who had a bad year at the plate, only batting .245.

That's 87 points higher than Jones.

And if you're thinking that maybe Jones, who used to be a power hitter, at least had most of his base hits leave the ballpark, nope, he only had three homers and 14 RBI in those 209 AB.

Jones' slugging percentage was .249, barely higher than Castillo's batting average.

Fortunately, metsmerizedonline.com and hotfootblog.com have both noted that Marty Noble of mlb.com says that the Mets are no longer looking at Jones.

And that's just as well, because not only is he a .158 hitter, but no good can come of the Mets trading for a former Braves star named Jones.

Too bad Mets didn't move as quickly on Willie Randolph

After the Mets' 2007 collapse, there was some speculation that Willie Randolph would lose his job. The Mets did not confirm that Randolph was coming back for a couple of days.

Had the Mets started the season with a new manager, rather than letting Randolph go 34-35, they would have had a much better shot at winning the NL East.

The Jets did not even wait 24 hours before getting rid of Eric Mangini. I'm glad the Jets acted a lot more decisively than the Mets did with regards to Randolph. Two years ago, Mangini was Mangenius, the rookie coach who led his team to the playoffs. Who's to say he won't be a good coach again someday somewhere else. But he's not a good coach now, and the Jets are built to win now. In fact, their window might well have passed.

I wish I could be more optimistic about who the Jets will hire now. But 14 years ago, the Jets fired another young coach, Pete Carroll, after a late-season collapse. Owner Leon Hess, declaring he was 80 years old and wanted to win now, hired Rich Kotite.

At least the Jets-Giants rivalry isn't the same as Mets-Yankees. I don't think Jet fans will complain about "hiring a Giant" if the Jets get Steve Spagnuolo. We certainly didn't complain when Bill Parcells came in.

And as of now, the best coach the Jets have had this decade is ex-Giant Bill Belichick, who was HC of NYC for just one day.

Pitchers and catchers can't get here soon enough.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Brett Favre triggers Tom Glavine flashback

At the end of the 2007, the Mets' late-season choke culminated with future Hall of Famer Tom Glavine closing out his New York career on the lowest of notes at home against a team from Miami.

This afternoon, future Hall of Famer Brett Favre most likely closed out his New York career (and his career overall) on the lowest of notes at home against a team from Miami.

At least Glavine and the Mets weren't defeated by a pitcher the team had released to make room for Glavine.

Though, come to think of it, a year later, the Marlins did close out the Mets with New York discard Matt Lindstrom on the mound.

The real pain of the Jets' season came last week when the Jets lost to Seattle, making their playoff chances a real longshot. But today the ugliness is starting to set in. Last week, I was comparing Favre to Pedro Martinez. This week, it's the unlamented Glavine.

It's probably just as well the season is over - if the Jets were playing next week, I'd probably end up comparing Favre to another great thrower who didn't know when to stay retired - Roger Clemens.

I still think the Jets had to make the move to get Favre. But the current Jets management is too quick to devalue players that don't fit into Eric Mangini's plans. Players such as Kevin Mawae, who made the Pro Bowl this year, Pete Kendall and Jonathan Vilma. At least the Jets got a top draft choice for John Abraham.

But not only did the Jets give away Chad Pennington for nothing, they let him go to a division rival. Compare that behavior to the Packers, who made sure Favre didn't end up on the Minnesota Vikings.

And to make Favre's day - and year - even worse, the Vikings also made the playoffs today behind mediocre quarterback Tavaris Jackson, whose QB rating today of 88.5 was almost double Favre's horrific 45.1 against the Dolphins.

If you add Jackson's and Favre's ratings together, the total is only slightly higher than Chad's division-clinching 113.2.

At least the Patriots missed the playoffs.

*

Aside from that, the only bright spot from today came when I looked at the box score from Glavine's last Met game and saw that of the eight pitchers the Mets used that day: Glavine, Jorge Sosa, El Duque, Scott Schoeneweis, Joe Smith, Pedro Feliciano, Guillermo Mota and Aaron Heilman, only one of them, Feliciano, will still be with the Mets next year.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Happy Holidays!

Season's Greetings from the Squawkers. Thanks for reading us and for all of your comments and feedback. Lisa and I wish all of you a happy and safe holiday season.

*

Update: Reader Eamonn of Country Fastball, a radio show that combines country music with interviews with major league ballplayers, informs us that Saturday's show will feature Joba Chamberlain.

The show may be heard at www.countryfastball.com on Sat. Dec. 27 at 12 p.m. Eastern time.

Yanks' Teixeira signing puts coal in Red Sox fans' stockings

What an exciting day. Not only do the Yanks get Mark Teixeira, and make Red Sox Nation cry, but the trailer for "Tyler Perry's Madea Goes to Jail" film is finally out online. (Squawker Jon says I like three kinds of movies - Mafia films, Tyler Perry movies, and talking animal flicks. To which I say, guilty as charged!)

Red from Boston fan site Surviving Grady writes this about the Teixeira deal:
The happiest guy in the world right now has gotta be A-Rod. Finally, there's someone who'll be booed more mercilessly than him at Fenway Park.
No argument there!

But did the Yankees go too far in spending, given the horrible economic conditions so many are facing? Are they out of touch with what the rest of the country is feeling? Absolutely not. After all, they're offering 1923-era prices to season ticket holders for those Yanks-Cubs exhibition games, and that's got to count for something, right?

The Yanks have not been liked around baseball since maybe the late 90s. But the hatred and the envy for the team is going to reach new levels after this signing. Heck, even one of my family members lectured me today for 15 minutes about how rooting for the Yankees now was like rooting for U.S. Steel, as the cliche goes.

But as I pointed out today to Squawker Jon, calling the Yanks the Evil Empire started after the Yanks beat the Sox in the Contreras deal, and that one didn't exactly work out to be the signing of the ages. So all this money doesn't guarantee anything.

Anyhow, I will guarantee this - I wish all of our readers Happy Holidays! I'll be away from the computer for the next few days (unless Manny becomes a Yankee, and then all bets are off!) Thanks to all of you for reading us. It's been a tumultous year for Jon and me, and we're glad to have such faithful readers.

What do you think? Leave us a comment!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

New Squawker giveaway

Just in case you don't get enough baseball-related gifts this holiday season, here's your chance to win something Yankee-themed to ring in the new year.

The filmmakers at Mental Slapstick are giving away 15 DVDs of the short film "Gandhi at the Bat" to our readers. All you have to do is send an email with your name, address, and phone number to subwaysquawkers@gmail.com . Please put the word DVD in the subject line. You have until Tuesday, January 6 at noon to enter.

So what's the movie all about? The filmmakers describe it this way:
Gandhi at the Bat is an 11-minute mock newsreel about the little-known (and totally fictional) incident when Mahatma Gandhi pinch hit for the Yankees in 1933. According to the movie, which is based on a short story by Chet Williamson that originally appeared in The New Yorker magazine, Gandhi visited the United States in 1933, but for reasons of national security, President Franklin Roosevelt requested that all records of the visit be suppressed. The only account to escape the web of secrecy was this one newsreel - only recently rediscovered and restored - in which Gandhi joins Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig and the rest of the Bronx Bombers in a game against against Connie Mack's Philadelphia A's. More info about the movie - including before-and-after demos that show how the filmmakers recreated Depression-era Yankee Stadium - can be found at http://www.gandhiatthebat.com/.

Anyhow, I've watched the movie myself, and it's a lot of fun. So please, check out the contest, and enter this cool giveaway.

Mark Teixeira deal has me in Lowe spirits

This has not been a good week. First the Jets choke, then the Yankees steal Mark Teixeira away from the Red Sox.

I hope I'm wrong, but I think this is a great move for the Yankees. With Bobby Abreu and Jason Giambi no longer in the lineup, the Yankees needed someone like Teixeira just as much as they needed CC Sabathia.

I can't believe that Boston would once again let their main rival grab a top player over a few million dollars. If you're going to go as high as $170 million, isn't it worth it to go to $180?

First the Red Sox got outbid for A-Rod. A championship soon followed.

Then the Red Sox got outbid for Johnny Damon. Once again, a championship soon followed.

Now the Red Sox are outbid for Teixeira. When will the misery end?

But wait - after the Red Sox lost A-Rod and Damon, it was BOSTON that went on to win the title! The first two times, Theo Epstein had the last laugh.

I still think getting Teixeira is a great move for the Yankees, but as we've seen before, the road to the title is unpredictable.

But while I hope Theo has the last laugh on Teixeira, I now see that the Mets are suddenly the front-runner for Derek Lowe. Apparently, the Red Sox are unwilling to give Lowe the money and years that he wants.

The last time Omar Minaya was willing to give an aging pitcher more years than the Red Sox were, the result was four years of Pedro Martinez.

It's one thing if the price drops the way K-Rod's did. But if the Mets sign Lowe for anything close to what Scott Boras is asking, I won't be able to give Squawker Lisa grief about the A.J. Burnett signing any more.

$180 million Marks the spot - the Yankees nab Teixeira

It looks like the Yankees are going to have an $180 million present under their Christmas tree this year. The Bombers have reportedly gotten Mark Teixeira, the biggest free agent hitting prize in this offseason. I'm doing the Snoopy Dance right now. Squawker Jon? Not so much. Between this and the Jets, he's in the fetal position!

Anyhow, it's funny. I was talking with Squawker reader a cape lad about this subject yesterday. He seemed pessimistic about his Red Sox picking up Teixeira. I told him, just only a little facetiously, that I thought the Yanks would sign both Tex and Manny Ramirez! My argument was that one thing Brian Cashman is great at is making these kind of moves very discreetly - nobody knew about the A-Rod trade until the deal was done. And I said I could totally see the Yankees quietly negotiating to get Teixeira as a Yankee.

So much for the Yanks saying that they didn't have any offers on the table for Tex or Manny!

I think getting Teixeira is a necessary move, and a good, albeit pricey, one. But I still want Manny as well. Heck, if the Yanks are going to go on an all-time spending spree, they might as well pick up Ramirez as well!

Anyhow, I'll open the floor to our readers, whether they be Yankee fans, Met fans, Red Sox fans, or Yankee haters . What do you think of the Yanks signing Teixeria? Leave us a comment!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Is Eric Mangini the Jets' Willie Randolph?

Squawker Lisa, just one more quick one on the Jets.

Willie Randolph was supposed to bring the winning tradition of the Yankees and Joe Torre's multiple rings to the Mets.

Randolph had some success with the Mets, leading his team to the playoffs in the 2006 season.

The following year, Randolph's team should have made the playoffs, but the team choked down the stretch.

Eric Mangini was supposed to bring the winning tradition of the Patriots and Bill Belichick's multiple rings to the Jets.

Mangini has had some success with the Jets, leading his team to the playoffs in the 2006 season.

Two years later, Mangini's team should have made the playoffs, but the team choked down the stretch.

There are other similarities. In both cases, ownership spent to give the team's leader the pieces he needed to win. The Jets have seven Pro Bowlers this year.

And in both cases, the team's leader was increasingly criticized for his strategic decisions. Actually, this comparison is not fair to Randolph - he never had a big game with as many strategic blunders as Mangini did Sunday.

Randolph was fired on a trip to the West Coast. Mangini has now had four disastrous trips out West. Whether it's in the middle of the night or the light of day, it's time for Mangini to go.

Are the Yankees junk food junkies?

While Squawker Jon is still mourning the loss of the Jets' season (so much for Mangenius and the overrated and odious "Broadway" Brett Favre) there is still lots to talk about in Yankeeland. Here are a few interesting tidbits:

The Bergen Record's Bob Klapisch suggests that Joe Girardi will be on a short leash in 2009 :
If the Yankees are playing .500 ball in mid-May, the clock on his dismissal will be ticking loudly. This is the same pressure that Willie Randolph faced early in 2008, and look how the Mets responded: They got their manager fired as they sunk under .500. Girardi is getting one more chance to undo last year’s mistakes, including his over-reliance on team meetings, his inability to digest and process tough losses and his ill-advised policy of banning junk food in the clubhouse.
I just love that the junk food policy is in the same sentence as the much more serious concerns about Girardi's managing. But people - especiallly athletes - get mad when you take away their treats.

And is Joe's edict the real reason CC Sabathia got a $9 million signing bonus - to stock up on snacks?

But I do think Girardi would be wise to loosen up on this issue. Heck, maybe he should tie the quality of junk food in the clubhouse to the quality of victories, the way he brought back ice cream as a treat last year when Mike Mussina reached 10 wins. Maybe a 1 to 5 fork rating system is in order here!

Besides, it could help with recruiting. Manny Ramirez is reportedly telling friends he's waiting on a three-year offer from the Yanks. If Girardi promises HoHos, Big Macs, and M&Ms on a regular basis, maybe Manny will be Manny without that $100 million salary he covets. Dare to dream!

* * *

Former Yankee Dock Ellis died this weekend, and Jay Jaffe's Futility Infielder site has an interesting piece about his life. Ellis didn't just reportedly pitch a no-hitter on LSD; he also once wore curlers onto the field during pre-game warmups! How did I not know that tidbit? Wonder what Girardi would have thought of that maneuver, especially if Manny Ramirez tries it next year?

* * *

Here's a fun quiz - see how many MLB teams you can name in three minutes. It's tougher than you'd think. (I got 27, and then my brain froze!)

* * *

The 500 HR Club site is featuring a poignant video of Babe Ruth playing Santa Claus for children with polio. What makes it even more touching is that it would be Ruth's last Christmas himself, and you can hear his voice sound very ragged and rough.

* * *

Finally, check out Zell's Pinstripe Blog to read his amazing story of how he met Phil Hughes on a baseball card message board.

Do you think Joe Girardi ought to relax his junk food ban? Leave us a comment about that, or anything else that's on your mind!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Is Brett Favre the Jets' Pedro Martinez?

Sorry, Squawker Lisa, I know this is a baseball blog, but on the day when the Jets season goes down in flames, I need to go off-topic.

I was even more excited about the Brett Favre deal than I was about the Pedro Martinez signing. And both moves got off to great starts. A month ago, there was even talk of a Subway Super Bowl.

But now the Jets are very likely out of the playoffs, since the Patriots and Ravens will almost certainly win their games next week against the sub-.500 Bills and Jaguars.

Assuming next Sunday's Jets-Dolphins game is moved to prime time, think of what the shivering fans will have to look forward to. The Jets, already eliminated, will be playing to prevent none other than Chad Pennington from marching over their carcasses to the playoffs.

And if the Jets manage to prevent Chad and the rest of the team put together by Bill Parcells from making the playoffs, they will only open the postseason door for Bill Belichick and the Patriots.

I'm glad the Jets decided to go for it with Favre, but now it looks like he is out of gas. Maybe Favre has reached the age where he doesn't have a full season in him. Unfortunately, quarterbacks can't pull a Roger Clemens and show up in the middle of the year.

On the play that should be the final nail in Eric Mangini's coffin, going for it on fourth and four from his own 20 with under 2:30 to go and the Jets down, 10-3, Favre threw downfield into double coverage yet again.

Had the ball been intercepted, it would have been summed up the Jets' season, and Favre's likely only season with the Jets. And Favre did end up throwing another interception on the final drive.

But the fact that Favre actually hit Coles in double coverage, and that Coles briefly had the ball before it was knocked away, is what sums up being a Jet fan.

Friday, December 19, 2008

From Soup to Putz

Squawker Lisa, I see you've named the new Yankee pitchers Alphabet Soup because they are CC and A.J. But the Mets also introduced a new pitcher Thursday, J.J. Putz., so you can't have Alphabet Soup all to yourself. Instead, how about these soup-related nicknames for your new pitchers: Chicken Soup for the always-ailing Burnett and Souper-Size for Sabathia.

And here's a nickname for Yankee fans after they shell out for tickets to the new Yankee Stadium: Soup Kitchen.

I also had some suggestions for numbers for the new Yanks, if only these numbers were not retired. Sabathia could have worn 3 for the number of years after which he can opt out of his contract. Also, his body type is similar to the Babe's. Burnett could have worn 10, for the number of times he has been on the disabled list.

And Lisa, I'm just fine with calling Francisco Rodriguez K-Rod instead of F-Rod. After all, Dwight Gooden wasn't called Dr. G. (That would have sounded like a weatherman or a dermatologist in subway ads.)

As for Sabathia saying he got chills when telling his real estate agent that he is a Yankee, I suspect it was really the other way around!

Only the Yankees could take the two biggest signings of the free-agent season in terms of contract size and combine them into one news conference. What, they didn't want to spring for a second carving board? Even the Mets had two separate welcomes for K-Rod and Putz.

If Putz sticks with number 40 (there was a report that he might try to get 20 from Howard Johnson), that number could have a couple of meanings. 40 is the number of saves Putz had in 2007, the year he made the All-Star team. And 40 is the number of games the Mariners were under .500 in 2008, when they went 61-101, and why I believe him when he says he's happy to be a setup man for a contender.

Finally, Lisa, thanks for ruining my night by letting me know that mlb.com's "Moment of the Year" was Derek Jeter's speech after the last game played at the old Yankee Stadium.

Look, even I think it was a special day, but did the 2008 Yankees really need to take a victory lap around the Stadium? After all, it was the last game only because they were missing the playoffs after 13 straight appearances.

I suppose we shouldn't take this list all that seriously, considering that second place went to something that happened in the Home Run Derby. But as long as the voters don't seem interested in things that actually happened during a game, goodness gracious, where's Roger Clemens testifying before Congress?

Yankees serve Alphabet Soup for lunch with CC Sabathia and A.J. Burnett

So, I watched the Alphabet Soup press conference on tape. Much like CC Sabathia said he got chills when telling his real estate agent that he is a Yankee, I got chills hearing him sound excited about wanting to be a Yank. My favorite part was hearing CC talk about how Brian Cashman knew the layout of Sabathia's house from seeing him on MTV's "Cribs."

I have to say I really like Sabathia's personality, and think he will be a nice addition to the Yanks just for that (not to mention that he's a heck of a pitcher.) Given that CC was rocking those big diamond earrings at the presser, I'm wondering if the Yankees style codes are going to be relaxed this year. Will Sabathia get to wear his baseball cap askew?

The only naysayer is my cat, C.C. - she was hissing at the screen over somebody stealing her name!

As for the other initialed pitcher, A.J. Burnett, he was as more likeable than I expected. Seeing him with his kids in Yankee gear was cute.

Let's hope all this era of good feeling translates to the field. There are only 56 days to pitchers and catchers!

This very good day for the Yankees was capped by Boston Red Sox owner John Henry making a big announcement about Mark Teixeira:
"We met with Mr. Teixeira and were very much impressed with him," Henry said in an e-mail time-stamped 10:45 p.m. "After hearing about his other offers, however, it seems clear that we are not going to be a factor."
Will Teixeira be a Yankee? Dare to dream!


What did you think of the press conference? Tell us about it!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

I have a new nickname for the Yankees' free agent pitchers

A few thoughts while we wait for this afternoon's big press conference (I'm assuming this is a carving board sort of day at the Stadium, with prime rib. Yum!) Alas, I have other plans this afternoon, and will have to record the presser and watch it later. Bummer.

But I do have a suggestion. Nicknames are vitally important in baseball, and I think the Bombers' new Yankee pitchers CC Sabathia and A.J. Burnett need one. My suggestion? Alphabet Soup for CC and A.J. Hey, it's better than calling them, say, 243 (for the combined millions the Bombers will be paying them) or 570 (their estimated combined weight.)

Readers, if you have a better suggestion for nicknames, please post a comment here, or email us at subwaysquawkers@gmail.com.

* Squawker Jon, I see that your Mets did their own wingding for "Krancisco" Rodriguez, as I like to call him. (He shouldn't be K-Rod if his name begins with an F!) And he will be taking the unusual uniform number of 75. Is that for how many wins the Mets will get next year?

* Derek Jeter was on XM Radio the other day, and he had this to say about Red Sox MVP Dustin Pedroia (oh, how I hate to put those words together!) Peter Abraham's blog has the words from the transcript. Here's a snippet:
“He’s a great player. More importantly, he’s a good person. He was fun to be around (at the All-Star Game). The thing about Dustin that I like is every game he’s playing all out. I mean, he’s a player that you really enjoy to watch play. I mean, I really don’t enjoy it because we see enough of him but you really appreciate the way he goes about playing the game everyday.
While I am positively cringing hearing Jeter say all that praise, I am also jealous that the Yanks really don't have a kid like Pedroia right now. I guess Joba counts as far as pitching excitement (and getting other opposing fans' skin the way Pedroia does), but there is not hot young position player on the Yanks who is an equivalent to Dustin. And I wish they did.

Once upon a time, Robinson Cano and Melky Cabrera appeared to be up-and-coming stars. But Melky's star faded so much he first was demoted to the minors, and then was supposed to be traded for Mike Cameron. However, it looks like that trade is dead. It would be nice if in 2009, Cano and Cabrera could be the exciting young players they projected to be. Dare to dream!

* One other note - Subway Squawkers is now part of Facebook's blog network. If you belong to Facebook, click here to join the fun with us.

What do you think about the state of the Yankees? Leave us a comment!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Francisco Rodriguez meets the press

The news conference introducing Francisco Rodriguez was held in a Citigroup building in Long Island City and started 20 minutes late. Citibank's computers were down this morning, meaning many customers could not retrieve account information. I just hope the delay didn't involve K-Rod standing in front of a Citibank ATM blinking "File not found" while Omar Minaya was trying to assure him that the stadium-naming deal was still going through and his contract was safe.

K-Rod handled the questions well, especially the one about whether he was disappointed that he did not get as much money as he had hoped for. But when he put on the number 75, I couldn't help but wonder if it would constantly remind him of the five-year, $75 million contract his agent had initially proposed.

Then again, when I see a free-agent pitcher put on number 75, I can't help but think of Barry Zito.

When Jerry Manuel helped K-Rod on with his jersey, he joked that 75 would be the number of saves he would get. I would take 75 over two years. Just keep that blown save number low.

My only complaint about the news conference came when Omar Minaya, in his introduction, said, "One thing we lacked last year was being able to close out the game."

I'm no huge Billy Wagner fan, but during the 2/3 of a season that Wagner played last year, the Mets did have one of the better closers in baseball. The problem was more in getting to Wagner.

Had Wagner stayed healthy last year, the Mets would have likely gotten to the postseason, but the rest of the bullpen and Wagner's struggles in big games would have doomed them in the playoffs.

Were Wagner healthy today, the Mets would not have signed K-Rod, though I hope they would have still made the J.J. Putz trade, giving them both a setup man and heir apparent closer. And if Wagner struggled or got hurt, Putz might have gotten the job sooner.

With Wagner out all of next year, this is all moot - these were moves the Mets had to make. But Wagner deserves acknowledgement that, when healthy, he was pretty good and sometimes great.

Still, I'm glad Wagner wasn't at the news conference, pretending to be happy to pass the torch to K-Rod. No need for a scene similar to when Derek Jeter was helping A-Rod on with his jersey, pretending to be pleased that A-Rod was joining the Yankees.

But I am certainly pleased that K-Rod is joining the Mets!

Will K-Rod live up to expectations? Tell us what you think.

Do great players have to be great people as well?

When Gene Michael and Buck Showalter built the team that formed the core of the late 90s dynasty Yankees, they made a point of getting rid of problematic (to put it mildly) personalities like Mel Hall.

This resulted in not only a great team, but a good character team - even a lifelong Yankee hater Squawker Jon actually tolerated the 1996 Yankees (although winning 125 games in 1998 set off his Yankee-hating meter all over again!) Those guys weren't perfect, but even when they did mess up off the field, like, say Darryl Strawberry did, they were still pretty likeable. You didn't feel like cringing over them on your team. You didn't have to feel like you were rooting for the pinstripes over the player.

But in recent years, the Yanks have gotten away from signing such players. I think Roger Clemens was the first Yankee that I really didn't like personally. While I still cheered for him as a player, it took me until 2003 to really warm up to him as a person. And then he wrecked whatever good opinion I had of him when he signed with the Astros.

Other Yankees that made me cringe included Kevin Brown, Randy Johnson, and Roger Clemens (again, and again, and again.)

All of this brings me to Manny Ramirez. When I wrote that I wanted Manny as a Yankee, many of our readers strongly disagreed with me, precisely because of his character issues. Here are a few examples of what they said about him:

One reader wrote:
I am disappointed that Lisa would want to see Manny in pinstripes....Money isn't the issue here, it's having a little respect and integrity for the game, not picking up a sulking, self-centered, guy who plays hard when he wants. The Yankees already have one guy who is a great player but a real loser as a human being, we don't need two.

She-Fan (who has a terrific blog of her own called Confessions of a She-Fan) said:

I'm in the Please-Don't-Sign-Manny camp. The last thing we need is somebody who doesn't run out ground balls and dogs it in the outfield. (Hello? Cano?) We need a big bat for sure - protection for A-Rod in the lineup. But while Manny is a great hitter and an eccentric personality, let him go back to the Dodgers. Joe Torre can handle him, not Joe Girardi.
JeanneB said she has "never been so disheartened by a team I have been rooting for my entire life," and wrote:
Manny? Are you kidding me? Manny who doesn't know which knee is injured when he goes for MRI? Manny, doesn't lift the bat off his shoulder when facing Mo? Manny who dogs it in the outfield? Yeah, that is what the Yankees need along with the rest of their overpaid, unmotivated aging players.
Several Red Sox fan readers also cautioned against the Yanks signing Manny. NAM commented:
Save yourselves the heartache Yankee fans. Run from Manny. He will leave you pulling your hair out.
All things considered, I'd generally rather have guys who play the game than the wrong way on the team. But let's face it - that ship sailed for the Yanks a long time ago.

And at the risk of sounding like a mercenary myself, my concerns about Ramirez's character - and that he'll flake out on the Yanks - are outweighed by his talent. The Yanks need Manny's bat in the lineup - otherwise, we're going to see A-Rod outdo Barry Bonds in intentional walks next season!

But what do you think? Leave us a comment!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Connor and David Robertson: Subway brothers?

Squawker Lisa, this item from metsblog might make YOU overturn the buffet table:

Free-agent LHP Andy Pettitte has a three-year, $36 million offer from an ‘unnamed team,’ reports Jon Heyman at SI.com...
...umm, crazy thought…but, is there any chance that the Mets are the ‘unnamed team,’ since they are supposedly seeking a front-end, left-handed starting pitcher…


My first complaint is having Andy Pettitte described as front-end pitcher. The Yankees are looking at him as their fifth starter on a one-year deal.

But my main complaint is that if Pettitte is only worth $10 million to the Yankees, the Mets (or anyone else) shouldn't be offering practically what they gave K-Rod. Overbidding is the Yankees' domain.

So while I won't overreact to Hamels, I might overreact to Pettitte. Stay in pinstripes, Andy. Don't try to find out what comes after being dead to Lisa.

Speaking of overreacting, I wonder if Omar Minaya was a little too eager to get rid of Scott Schoeneweis. The idea that the relievers were forced into unsuitable roles may have actually applied to Schoeneweis, who was one of the top relievers in the league last year against lefties, but floundered when asked to be more than a lefty specialist.

Now the Mets are down to just Pedro Feliciano on the left side in the pen, just when the Phillies have gotten even more left-handed by signing Raul Ibanez.

In return for Schoeneweis, all the Mets got was Connor Robertson. Here's what ESPN analyst Keith Law said about Robertson a year ago when he came over to Arizona in the deal for Dan Haren:

Arizona also got a fringe bullpen arm in Connor Robertson, whom it could have had for free in October when Oakland placed him on outright waivers.

Great - another fringe bullpen arm. Maybe his entrance music can be the theme from the TV show "Fringe."

(Speaking of entrance music, I did think Aaron Heilman had the best music of all - "London Calling" by the Clash.)

The most notable thing about Connor Robertson might be that his brother David pitched for the Yankees part of last year.

It's not clear if either Robertson will make the major-league squad next year, but if both do, it might be the first time the Mets and Yankees have had brothers playing for both teams at the same time.

Jesus Alou played for the Mets in 1975, while brother Felipe played for the Yankees between 1971 and 1973 and brother Matty also played for the Yankees in 1973.

Al Leiter's brother Mark played one game for the Yankees in 1990.

Bret Boone, brother of Aaron F. Boone, signed a minor-league contract with the Mets in January of 2006, but quit shortly into spring training.

The Mets and Yankees do have at least one father-son combination, since Felipe's son Moises recently played for the Mets between DL stints.

And they could have another before too long if Mets' 2008 first-round draft choice Ike Davis pans out - he's the son of of former Yankee reliever Ron Davis.

Can you think of any other Met-Yankee player family combinations?

Sunday, December 14, 2008

On Cole, Cashman, choke artists and crummy uniforms

Squawker Jon, I just listened to WFAN's broadcast of Cole Hamels calling the Mets "choke artists." And I am disappointed that you weren't more "worked up," as you put it, over it. I expected you to destroy a water cooler, or overturn a buffet table or something. Instead, you were all "meh" about what the Phillie said. What's up with that?

Hamel's comments reminded me of the way Red Sox players Curt Schilling, Trot Nixon, et al spent the first few days of spring training after the 2004 World Series bashing A-Rod. And you know how annoyed I was over that! I expected more of the same peckishness from you. But it does say something about the rivalries - in both cases, you'd expect the winning players to be above it all, but they still took potshots at the losers.

Then again, Red Sox fan site Surviving Grady tweaked the Yanks this week, and instead of being outraged, I kind of nodded my head in agreement.

The site featured the latest edition of the "Cashman-Headwarmer Dialogues," called "Haven't We Been Here Before?" where Brian Cashman and his infamous Adidas headband talk it out about each year of the Yanks' free agent signings. Here's a snippet:

2002:

Cashman: Well, it's done.

Headwarmer: Excellent. If I had hands, I'd be rubbing them together, doing a sort of menacing laugh.

Cashman: Indeed. Now that we've signed Jason Giambi, who can stop us?

Oh, and not that I get a vote on these things, but the new Red Sox primary road jerseys are hideous (click here to see what I'm talking about). Newsflash - when your team is called the Red Sox, you might want to have some, well, RED on the uniform!

Come to think of fit, the uniform looks like a poor imitation of the Yankees' road jersey. I guess the Yankees really are in the Sox's heads. Maybe now's the time where I should rub my hands together in glee and do a menacing laugh!

What do you think? Leave us a comment!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Why I want Manny Ramirez to wear pinstripes

You would think that a future Hall of Famer who pretty much single-handedly got his team into the playoffs would be in big demand on the free agent market. But you would be wrong, when it comes to the case of Manny Ramirez.

It appears that he and superagent Scott Boras may have outsmarted themselves this year. (Yes, I know it sounds strange to use the words "Manny Ramirez" and "outsmarted" in the same sentence, but hear me out.)

True, Boras was successful in getting his client out of Boston - and getting the option year clauses on his contract voided. And Ramirez reminded everybody exactly how great a hitter he is with his time on the Dodgers, where he hit .396, with 17 homers and 53 RBI in two months. Also, after acting up in an unconscionable matter with the Red Sox, Manny was being a well-behaved Manny in Los Angeles. No matter.

It looks like Manny is ready to have a blue Christmas, but it won't even be Dodger blue. L.A. has rescinded their 2-year, $45 million initial offer to Ramirez. And nobody else appears to have much interest in signing him. Newsday's Ken Davidoff reports:
Manny Ramirez is growing extremely upset about the lack of suitors for his services, so much so that he has told friends he would contemplate retirement if a suitable offer doesn't arrive soon, a person close to the situation told Newsday.
That's not all. Davidoff writes:

Ramirez told a friend that he spends most of his time working out, watching cartoons and playing video games. He'd much rather be speaking to his agent Scott Boras about high-stakes negotiations.
And here I thought that Ramirez was a secret genius who really went into the Green Monster all those times not to use the restroom, but to work on complicated math equations. Another illusion shattered!

Anyhow, longtime Squawker readers know that I've gone back and forth on whether I want Manny in pinstripes. Right now, I've decided the Yanks should sign him, for the following reasons:
  • In passing on re-signing Jason Giambi and Bobby Abreu, the Yanks have lost 52 HRs and 196 RBI, and two of the few Yankees who actually hit well last year. Given that the Yanks' hitting woes helped keep them out of the playoffs, they sure could use a bat like Ramirez's. He is a future Hall of Famer, after all, who still can terrify the opposition.
  • Manny could be a comparative bargain this year on the free agent market - at the very least, he'll be a lot cheaper than Mark Teixeira will. Spending, say, 3 years and $60 million on Ramirez makes a lot more sense than the 5-year, $82 million contract A.J. Burnett is getting.
  • The entertainment factor, both on and off the field. True, Manny brings a lot of baggage with him. But he also brings excitement. Love him or hate him, everybody has an opinion on him. And every at-bat with him (or catch in the outfield) will be must-watch viewing.
  • Granted, he could prove to be a distraction, and he'll bring a lot of drama to the Yanks' clubhouse. Then again, A-Rod is curently hobnobbing with Madonna. What could be more headline-making - and dramatic - than that?
  • Ramirez, who grew up in Washington Heights, has been open about the fact that he always wanted to be a Yankee. And he said that when he was a Red Sox. It would be fun to have a hometown hero on the team again who really wanted to wear the pinstripes.
  • It adds a new dimension to the Rivalry. As Red Sox fan Bob Ekstrom said on our blog earlier this week, "If you think Damon's homecoming was tepid, wait until the Big Chill that sweeps the Fens with Manny in pinstripes."
Do I think it's realistic that Manny Ramirez could be a Yankee? Absolutely. After all, according to SI.com's Jon Heyman, Hank Steinbrenner reportedly covets him, and doesns't seem to care about the long hair. I do think Manny should have to cut his hair, though, just to add to the entertainment factor!

But what do you think? Do you want Manny Ramirez as a Yankee? Leave us a comment!

Friday, December 12, 2008

I'd rather see Carol Burnett than A.J. Burnett as a Yankee

Just wanted to voice my extreme displeasure over the Yankees reportedly signing A.J. Burnett. Let's review - the Yanks finally got under from giving the, shall we say, oft-injured Carl Pavano four years and $40 million. So they turn around and give the oft-injured Burnett a five-year, $82.5 million contract. How does this make a lick of sense?

It's just that Burnett is an injury risk; he's been on the DL nine times since 2000. It's that he's not very good in the first place. His career record is 87-76, with a 3.81 ERA. He's only won over 12 games a year once, which was this season. That's worth $16 million a year? Good grief.

Meanwhile, Brian Cashman is flying to Houston and telling Andy Pettitte to take it or leave it when it comes to the Yanks' $10 million offer. At this point, I can't blame Pettitte if he's peeved over this. He shouldn't be getting $16 million next year, but he's certainly worth more than $10 million.

Earlier this week, I thought the Yanks' Pettitte offer was reasonable. Not any more. If the Yanks have money for Burnett, they should have money to keep Pettitte, one of their dynasty's icons.

And give me Andy's personality over A.J.'s any day. Andy took it upon himself to be the man. A.J.? Not so much. Look what John Gibbons, his former manager, said about him:
"I like the guy," said Gibbons, currently the Royals' bench coach. "He is a high-strung guy with a ton of talent. I know things happened in the past, the sarcastic tip of the hat to the fans, but I enjoyed having him on my team."
Let's review. As the Post notes, he's had two good seasons - both in his walk years. He's got a bit of an attitude. And he's pitched 200 innings exactly three times in a decade. And this guy is a good fit for the Yankees why, exactly?

I've got to stop my rant now, before I blow a gasket. Suffice it to say that I'd rather see Carol Burnett as a Yankee. At least she'd keep the fans in stitches. A.J. Burnett, on the other hand, will be the one getting the stitches!

What do you think of the A.J. Burnett signing? Leave us a comment!

Cole in Mets' stockings

I'm having trouble getting worked up over Cole Hamels calling the Mets "choke artists." (Click here to go to WFAN and hear the broadcast.) It doesn't matter what players say in the offseason - it matters what they do during the season. People got excited last year when the normally reserved Carlos Beltran pronounced the Mets the team to beat in 2008. And at the end of the year, it didn't matter.

Last offseason, the talk was that the Phillies had the Mets' number, since the Phillies beat the Mets seven times in a row down the stretch in 2007. In 2008, the Mets beat the Phillies, 11-7, in the season series. And that didn't matter, either.

What really mattered was that the Mets' bullpen threw away the season. ESPN's Jayson Stark offers several startling statistics to make this point, including:

If all games had ended after seven innings, the Mets would have finished six games ahead of the Phillies.

Stark goes on to say:

The Phillies lost no games they led after eight innings. The Mets lost seven of them -- and lost 13 games they led after seven innings.


Thanks to Omar Minaya's moves, the Mets are extremely unlikely to blow 29 saves again. And Brad Lidge is just as unlikely to go the whole season without blowing a save, as he did last year.

On paper at least, the Mets have closed the gap with the Phillies, and maybe that's why Hamels seems to be worrying about the Mets rather than enjoying his own team's success.

The Phillies dominated the postseason, winning 11 games and losing only 3. They won both the World Series and the NLCS by a three-game margin, 4-1. Over the 162-game regular season, they only beat the Mets by that same three-game margin. suggesting that the Mets were the Phillies' toughest opponent of the year.

Shouldn't Hamels believe that the Phillies won because they were the best team, not because the Mets choked? Ultimately, calling the Mets choke artists only demeans the Phillies.

But the only way for the Mets to remove that stigma is to do it on the field.

Yes, we have a winner (actually, we have 15 winners!)

Thanks to the good folks at A&E, we were able to run a terrific giveaway to promote our new site location. 15 lucky readers will be getting copies of A&E's Essential Games 6-DVD sets. These DVDs feature memorable games at Yankee Stadium, Shea Stadium, and Fenway Park (click these links to purchase the DVDs.)

Anyhow, we received a deluge of contest entries from all over the world, A&E picked the lucky 15 who will be getting these stocking stuffers. Without further ado, the winners are...:

Shea Stadium
PT from North Carolina
Mark from New York
Kevin from New York
Matthew from Maine
James from North Carolina

Yankee Stadium
Robert from New York
Tanisha from Florida
Jerome of Connecticut
Peggy from New York
Kathryn from New York

Fenway Park
Bob from Rhode Island
Cindy from Massachusetts
Ben from Virginia
John from Massachusetts
Glenn from Massachusetts

I sent out congratulations emails to all of the winners last night, and I felt like Santa Claus!

Thanks to A&E for this terrific contest, thanks to all the bloggers who helped spread the word on the giveaway, and thanks to our readers for entering.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

On CC's rider and the Melkman delivering Mike Cameron to the Yankees

The baseball hot stove is bubbling over with a plethora of signings and trades. So there's a lot to squawk about. Let's get it started.

The latest news out of Yankeeland is that Melky Cabrera is set to go to Milwaukee for Mike Cameron. So much for the Yanks' youth movement, eh? The Bergen Record is reporting the following:
On the condition of anonymity, the source said the Yankees would be willing to extend Cameron to a two-year contract through the 2010 season. The Brewers had picked up Cameron’s 2009 option for $10 million, and a two-year deal with the Yanks could be worth about $17 million total.
How Melky Cabrera sunk from being one of the more pleasurable players to watch on the Yanks over the past few seasons to being the easiest out on the roster is a big mystery to me. But what's even more head-scratching is why the Yanks would even consider extending Mike Cameron's contract, given that he's nearly 36 now. Not to mention what will happen to Brett Gardner. What, exactly, is to be gained in giving Cameron another year?

Speaking of head-scratching moves, why the Yankees are even thinking about signing A.J. Burnett is beyond me, let alone offering him $80 million, considering they've already been burned by one injury-prone former Marlin pitcher with Carl Pavano. (Of course, the Red Sox didn't get burned by their own injury-prone former Marlin pitcher, Josh Beckett, but I digress!)

It's strange times to think that I would prefer Derek Lowe to Burnett and Sheets, but I do. At least Lowe is a healthy big-game pitcher (albeit one who makes those, well, Derek Lowe faces when things go wrong!) Don't think Derek is worth a four-year, $66 million deal, though.

And yes, the numbers the Yanks are willing to shell out this year are simply mind-boggling. Given 1) the recession we're currently in, and 2) the fact that the Yanks just went back to the city of New York to beg for more cash for their stadium, I have to say that even this Yankee fan finds these contract numbers a bit unseemly and over the top. Don't mean to get all Joe Hill here, but there it is.

Oprah Winfrey toned down her yearly Favorite Things extravaganza to reflect the economic realities this country is facing. Not the Yanks. A few days ago, I thought that $10 million for Andy Pettitte was reasonable. But given the money the Bombers are willing to throw around this week, that figure now looks awfully cheap.

Am I happy the Yanks got CC Sabathia? Of course. He's a heck of a pitcher. But I am a bit concerned that they overpaid for him, given that they were essentially bidding against themselves. And his three-year opt out clause worries me - if he's already planning an escape hatch before he's even come to New York, that's a real concern. He does seem like a very likeable guy, though - hopefully he'll fit right in with the Yanks, pitch great, and all these concerns will be moot next year.

While the Yanks are on a spending spree, the Mets are making deals, like getting J.J. Putz. Congrats, Squawker Jon - your team's bullpen looks pretty awesome. And in keeping with that era of good feeling. I'm going to resist making a joke about your new reliever's last name!


* * *

I was on three radio programs over the course of 23 hours squawking about the winter meetings, and I had a terrific time on all three shows. Thanks to Dos Amigos, Sound-Off with Sinkoff, and NYBaseball Digest for having me on.

Coming later today, my thoughts on where Manny Ramirez will end up. But in the meantime, tell us what you think about all these moves.

Omar Minaya Putz finishing touches on new pen

In the 2007 All-Star Game, Francisco Rodriguez got the save. His setup man was fellow star closer J.J. Putz. Such dream combinations usually happen only in All-Star games. But this one is now a main feature of the 2009 Mets.

In the words of another J.J. from an old TV show: Dyn-o-mite! For Omar Minaya and the Mets, not to mention Johan Santana, who no longer has to pitch a complete game to assure himself of a win, these are certainly good times.

Getting a strong setup man was just as important as landing a top closer. With the Mets talking up budget constraints, I didn't have much hope that they could land a second good reliever, much less one who had been an All-Star closer just two seasons ago. Especially when the Mets were dangling the likes of Aaron Heilman in hopes of landing Huston Street from the Rockies.

Now the Mets, with a package featuring Heilman, have turned the bullpen from a weakness to a strength.

While Putz struggled with injuries in 2008, and, as Big League Stew points out, blew eight saves in 23 chances, he's at least as good a bet to do well next year as other available closers Brian Fuentes and Kerry Wood. Over the last three seasons, Putz had 91 saves, while Fuentes had 80. And while Wood was healthy with 34 saves in 2008, he only pitched a total of 44 innings the previous two seasons.

And Putz isn't even the Mets' closer - he's the setup man! Dyn-o-mite!

I'm sorry to see Endy Chavez and Joe Smith go, and Aaron Heilman may just need a change of scenery, but the Mets didn't really give up that much at the major league level. Mike Carp and the other prospects are just that at this point - prospects.

But when Metsblog.com quoted Indians GM Mark Shapiro as saying the three-team deal came together quickly and "what I hope is that we’re all feeling good about it a year from now,” I couldn't help but think of the last time I was so excited about a trade involving the Mets and the Indians. It was one of the first moves Shapiro made as Indians GM - the December 2001 trade of Roberto Alomar to the Mets. A year later, nobody was feeling good about that one!

And as for that 2007 All-Star Game, the full story turned out to be more like the Mets' 2008 bullpen misadventures. After Putz struck out Matt Holliday and got Brian McCann to pop out, he was only one out away from a save. But Dmitri Young singled and Alfonso Soriano hit a two-run homer off of Putz to cut the lead to 5-4.

So K-Rod was brought in to get the final out. But he walked Derrek Lee and Orlando Hudson to load the bases before getting Aaron Rowand to fly out to end the game.

See, these guys will fit right in on the Mets!

By the way, Putz and the AL had a three-run cushion in the ninth because one of the National League All-Star closers had given up a two-run homer to Victor Martinez the inning before. And that closer was, you guessed it, Billy Wagner. (Martinez, incidentally, was pinch-hitting for Santana.)

When Wagner helped blow that All-Star game, I was angry at the time that the Mets had missed out on possible home field advantage in the World Series. They ended up not having to worry about that in 2007 or 2008. There is stil work to be done, but the way this offseason is going so far, the Mets may have good reason to take an interest in the outcome of next year's All-Star game.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

From The Fens: A Hot Stove Take

In the three seasons that Jon and I have been writing Subway Squawkers, we've noticed that we have a growing audience of Red Sox fans. One of them is Bob Ekstrom. He's a Red Sox fan and writer who made me laugh out loud with an article he wrote for Boston Dirt Dogs a few years ago, where he compared the Yankees to Damien in "The Omen" (you just can't kill them!)

In honor of the winter meetings, Ekstrom has sent us a dispatch from the heart of Red Sox Nation. Here it is:

A warm Hot Stove welcome to you from the shadows of Fenway Park, where crews are busy adding another 350 seats for next season. Not exactly a new ballpark, but with ticket prices in a freeze, someone’s got to pay for the big off-season signings – that is, if there are any.

So, as Red Sox Nation sits idly and watches, the Mets and Yankees have made their initial splashes over the last 24 hours. Although he could never feign credible interest in K-Rod, Theo Epstein had his poker face on with C.C. Sabathia. So, what did Beantown lose in the wake of C.C.’s acquiescence to go to the Bronx?

Well, his 290-pound frame would have certainly filled the considerable space on the dugout bench vacated by Bartolo Colon. Maybe it will carry him through another 200 innings, and maybe Hal & Hank will foot the bill for those four straight starts on three days’ rest last fall. He did have a second half renaissance but – and sorry, Jon - 11-2 as a Brewer is more an indictment of lethargic National League lineups. And let’s not forget his postseason experience, although 2-3 with a 7.92 ERA over four playoff series makes his autumnal stuff as enigmatic as the Franklin batting tee my son dragged to the curb years ago.

Well, why The Nation’s interest in the first place? To be honest, we just enjoyed kicking the tires on this gas-guzzling Heavy Duty, even as the guy inside who offered more than sticker waited and watched us through the showroom window. Look, forget the Tampa Bay Rays. The Yankees are still the warrior Achilles around here, and Sabathia’s snub seemed like the arrow by which to fell them. We just wanted to twist it a little.

Which brings up Carl Pavano. This Bridge To Nowhere took four years and $39.95 million to build, but if it should ever take direction, Theo Epstein wants to be the toll collector. In the end, his mental composition is more suitable to the languid Florida breezes he’s destined for.

Red Sox Nation is pursuing some constructive moves as well. Several outlets have characterized winter meeting talks with A.J. Burnett as ‘significant,’ prompting many of us to decree a Day
Without a Jay in protest of Theo’s proclivity for injury-plagued roster squatters (see J.D. Drew and the aforementioned Pavano). That may not be necessary though, as rumors have Cashman bailing us out.

Then there’s Derek Lowe, a Boston fave who could also become a Yankee any moment, and that will hurt. I’ve heard it questioned why a team that spurned one of its players would suddenly reacquire interest in him only a few years later. I don’t know. Maybe Andy Pettitte can answer that one. I’ll be sure to ask him when he’s up here condo shopping next month.

If Pettitte does indeed find himself in red socks as some are speculating, the Tit For Tat doctrine would demand Curt Schilling put on the pinstripes. This would take the Border War to a new level as both have vowed never to cross the line. Then again, so did Johnny Damon.

But never Manny. During his Boston days, Ramirez said it was his dream to play in New York; specifically, the Yankees. Theo put him on waivers after the 2003 season in hopes of making that dream come true. There he was, a 30-year old Manny in his prime, available for the taking. Five years, $101 million, with club options for another two years. And Brian Cashman and Jim Duquette were lauded for their restraint.

Now, the Apple is divided. Mets fans are safe since the Wilpons don’t want him. As for the Empire, half covet him and Hank will grant them their wish. Manny will be a Yankee, but on Scott Boras’s terms: four years and $100 million, maybe more. The Yankees are good at bidding against themselves. So, how will Red Sox Nation handle that?

Manny and A-Rod sandwiching a left-handed hitter will make the most potent middle-of-the-order in baseball . . . for two years. Then the Manny-being-Manny episodes begin as he frets over his next contract. By the fourth year, he won’t even hit his weight, with both headed in the wrong direction. Despite it all, two years may well be worth it, and Bostonians know that.

If you think Damon’s homecoming was tepid, wait until the Big Chill that sweeps the Fens with Manny in pinstripes. Who knows? Maybe Terry Francona will have Andy Pettitte drill him in the butt.

Bob is a New Englander who doesn't take the subway but, like the Acela that roars past him a dozen times a day, he stays connected with both Boston and New York. He writes for South Coast Insider, and his sports work has appeared in Boston Metro and on BostonDirtDogs, JetsInsider, and Inside Football, a Giants publication. He also guest blogs on BostonSportsMedia.com.

What do you think? Leave us a comment.

Shocker! CC Sabathia reportedly agrees to terms with Yankees

It looks like CC Sabathia wasn't so reluctant to be a Yankee after all.

The New York Post's Joel Sherman is reporting that Sabathia has accepted the Yanks' 6-year, $140 million offer to make him the richest pitcher in history, after Brian Cashman met with him for the third day in a row. (Update: CC is getting a 7-year, $161 million deal. Yikes!)

According to Sherman:
Cashman had met with Sabathia on both Sunday and Monday in Vegas. He then slipped out of the Winter Meetings yesterday to fly to San Francisco to meet again with Sabathia and also this time Sabathia's wife, Amber. It was in this meeting that Sabathia fully expressed that he wanted to come East and play in the AL, that he wanted the responsibility that comes with being the big man for the biggest team.
Squawker Jon is going to have a fit!

I had been trying to be optimistic that Sabathia's apparent reluctance was a negotiation ploy, but Jon had been teasing me, both on this board and in public, that CC didn't really want to be a Yankee.

Fortunately, it looks like money still talks. CC seemed to be the Yankees' Plan A, B, C, and D this year, so getting him is of course vitally important to their future.

But Squawker Jon isn't the only person in my life who will be unhappy about this signing. My cat C.C. is a bit peeved as well. She doesn't like Sabathia's aversion to punctuation marks, and she's also not thrilled that somebody else with her name is coming to town. Oh well.

What do you think about the Yanks getting CC Sabathia? Tell us about it!

Will K-Rod be lightning rod for Mets' rivals?

Congratulations, I guess, are in order on Squawker Jon's beloved Mets getting Francisco Rodriguez to agree to a three-year, $37 million deal. After all, as my blogging partner notes, the Mets got him for a lot less than the 5-year, $75 million deal he was seeking.

K-Rod is known not just for being a great closer, but for his annoying, over-the-top celebrations. He makes Jonathan Papelbon look like a librarian, and Joba Chamberlain seem like a church mouse. And now he joins a team which already has one drama king - Jose Reyes.

So it's going to be interesting to watch how the other teams in the National League, especially the Phillies, react to seeing K-Rod's ridiculous displays of emotion.

As for how this will affect the Yankee-Mets rivalry, I'm guessing we'll be hearing about how the Mets now have the best closer in town. Good grief. And I'm also thinking that K-Rod will be, shall we say, not exactly loved by Yankee fans. I'm sure Squawker reader Uncle Mike (aka Michael in NJ) is firing up a post as we speak about Rodriguez!

I'm also wondering how having K-Rod and Reyes on the same team will affect the Mets. Will Reyes feel compelled to elevate his displays of emotion to an even more histrionic level? If so, heaven help us!

You know what I don't like about K-Rod? His nickname. Not only is it a ripoff of A-Rod, but I keep on thinking that the pitcher's first name should begin with a K instead of an F. Maybe he should just change his name to Krancisco Rodriguez. It would make a lot more sense!

What do you think of K-Rod? Leave us a comment!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Update: Subway Squawkers radio show appearances

As previously noted, I'm going to be on a bunch of radio stations over the next few days to discuss the winter meetings. There is one additional station I will be squawking on. Here's the latest info.

  • First up, I will be joining the Dos Amigos radio show on Miami's 790 The Ticket. I'll be on around 11:15 p.m. Tuesday night. You can listen online by going to 790theticket.com and clicking on the Listen Live button.
  • Wednesday at approximately 4:10 p.m., I will be on Albany's Sound-off With Sinkoff on ESPN's 104.5 The Team. If you're in the Albany area, go to WTMM. If you're not in the area, head to WTTM's web site and listen there.
  • And on Wednesday night, 10th Inning Journal writer Phil Allard and I will be talking on NY Baseball Digest's Mike Silva's radio show about the winter meetings. The program will be on live from 9-11 p.m, and we should be on around 9:45 or so. You can listen live by going to the BlogTalkRadio site.

These should be a lot of fun - thanks to these stations for having me on. Hope our readers can check out these appearances.

Strategies of Omar Minaya and Brian Cashman

Jon Heyman of CNNSI and SNY is reporting that the Mets are going to get their man - Francisco Rodriguez - the only free-agent closer worth signing to a substantial multiyear deal. This is great news!

Some argue that Kerry Wood is a better pitcher, but he's so injury-prone he'd be lucky to last one year. Brian Fuentes lost his closer job only a year ago. And Trevor Hoffman is nearing the end of his career and is best suited as a setup man, if that.

The Mets didn't want to pay K-Rod the five years and $75 million he was seeking, and, fortunately for them, Omar Minaya read the market correctly and is now looking at a deal for half that amount over three years.

I'm so happy about getting K-Rod that I'm willing to forget for a short while that the Mets still have some other major issues to deal with. At least the top one is out of the way, and early enough in the winter meetings that maybe there will be more good news by the end of the week.

*

If Brian Cashman were in the market for a closer, then judging by his strategy with CC Sabathia, he would have made a pre-emptive bid at K-Rod's original asking price as soon as the free-agent market opened. And Cashman, who has not had a long-term pitching contract work out since Mike Mussina, would have been on the hook for such a contract at double the price he could have paid a few weeks later.

Cashman has one strategy: We're the Yankees and we can pay more than anyone. But, unlike Minaya, Cashman seems unable to adapt to changing conditions. The pre-emptive bid for Sabathia should have had two purposes. The main one of course is to win his services. But the second one should have been to gauge Sabathia's interest in being a Yankee.

This is a player who supposedly would rather play somewhere besides New York. Now that the offer has been on the table for over three weeks with barely a mention of any other team, can there be any doubt that Sabathia would prefer an alternative to the Bronx?

The Mets are fortunate that K-Rod wants to be a Met, and at their price. But Cashman might not be so fortunate with Sabathia. He needs to have a Plan B.

When the Yankees lost out on Daisuke Matsuzaka, Cashman responded by paying $46 million (including posting fee) for Kei Igawa. Will Cashman have a better Plan B this time?

I'm peeved about Pettitte

Squawker reader/Red Sox fan a cape lad sent me a link this morning that made my jaw drop to the floor. Here's the tidbit in question, from the Boston Globe's Extra Bases site:

Shortly after Theo Epstein met with reporters tonight, an agent walking the hall of the Bellagio resort and casino gave the Red Sox a supreme compliment.

"They explore everything,'' said the agent.

Including a name that should be familiar to all Sox fans for obvious reasons: Andy Pettitte.

I thought Andy looked positively revolting in the Astros' maroon, but the thought of him wearing a Red Sox uniform is enough to make me turn red - with anger! Pettitte going to Boston simply cannot happen.

Andy was going to be dead to me - again - anyway if he spurned a reasonable offer from the Yanks to go elsewhere on the table to go elsewhere (and yes, given the Mitchell Report, Pettitte's lousy second half, and the current economic climate, I think a $10 million opening offer is reasonable), but the thought of him going to Boston would really kill me. Can he be doubly dead to me? Is that possible?

Maybe Pettitte has earned enough points among some Yankee fans that he could ultimately be unscathed by his time in Boston, the way David Cone was. But this squawker would never forgive Andy for such a betrayal.

I know Boston wooed Andy the last time around, and he turned them down, saying he couldn't do that to his old team. I hope Pettitte still has that same mindset.

Yankee fans, how would you feel about Andy going to Boston? And Red Sox fans, would you embrace Pettitte in Beantown? Tell us what you think!


Squawker media alert

Just wanted to let our readers know that I will be on several radio programs this week to squawk about the winter meetings.

First up, this amiga will be reunited with Larry Milian and Alan Strauss on the Dos Amigos radio show, on Miami's 790 The Ticket. I'll be on around 11:15 p.m. Tuesday night. You can listen online by going to 790theticket.com and clicking on the Listen Live button.

Aside from being very envious that the Dos Amigos are enjoying warm weather while we're freezing to death up in the Northeast, I'll be squawking about the happenings in the winter meetings.

I will also be congratulating Larry on his correct prediction on the Yanks' season - he told me on the air last spring that the Yanks would finish third. And unfortunately for Yankee fans, that prediction turned out to be right.

And on Wednesday night, 10th Inning Journal writer Phil Allard and I will be talking on NY Baseball Digest's Mike Silva's radio show about the winter meetings. The program will be on live from 9-11 p.m, and we should be on around 9:45 or so. You can listen live by going to the BlogTalkRadio site.

In the meantime, I will throw out this radio-related question for readers. It's been a few months now since Mike and the Mad Dog split up, and went on to do separate shows. What do you think of their new programs? Are they better off together, or apart?

My own vote is that I preferred the two together - they evened out the more annoying edges on each other's personality when they were a duo. I have listened to both of their new shows, and they're not half as compelling as they were as a team. In retrospect, though, it was amazing that they stayed together as long as they did.

But what do you think? Leave us a comment!

Monday, December 8, 2008

Who would you rather have in pinstripes - CC or Manny?

Viva Las Vegas! As MLB descends on Sin City for the Winter Meetings, Brian Cashman has been attempting to woo free agent pitcher CC Sabathia. They reportedly met this weekend, three weeks after the Yanks first attempted to blow him away with that staggering six-year, $140 million contract offer.

Should we be concerned that it's taken so long to meet with CC? I say yes. As another GM put it in a New York Times article the other day:

"If they went to Sabathia with $140 million, he could go back to them and say, 'Give me $170 million and I'm there,'" said one major league general manager, who was granted anonymity so he could freely discuss another team's plans. "He hasn't done that. The Yankees aren't his first choice. Why isn't he jumping on their offer?"

I'm glad Cashman is meeting with Sabathia, and I won't fault the GM if the Bombers fail to sign CC. The Yanks' offer, which would make him the highest-paid pitcher of all time, is more than fair.

That being said, if CC is reluctant to be a Yankee for non-monetary reasons, I don't know if it's such a great idea to try to talk him into it. The last pitcher the Yanks had to do that sort of convincing with was Randy Johnson, and that didn't exactly work out too well.

So what's Plan B if CC doesn't want to wear NY on his cap? It's possible the Yanks will spend money upgrading the bats - Mark Teixeira is considered an option. Today's Ken Davidoff column in Newsday suggests another option - Manny Ramirez!

Here's what I want to know from our readers - who would you most rather see the Yanks spend their free agent money on? Is it CC, Manny, or Mark? Or maybe Derek Lowe, A.J. Burnett, or some other option?

As for my own opinion, my first choice would be for the Yanks to go back in a time machine to a year ago and swoop up Johan Santana. But since time travel isn't an option, I'd most rather see the Bombers spend the money on Sabathia, but only if he really wants to be a Yankee. If he doesn't, the Yanks should say C-ya to CC.

* * *

In other news, I have signed up for Facebook, and will be setting up a Subway Squawkers page in the near future. In the meantime, shoot me an email at subwaysquawkers@gmail.com if you'd like to be my Facebook friend.

Coming soon - an announcement of the winners in the A&E Essential Games giveway. But in thee meantime, tell us who you think the Yanks should sign. Leave us a comment!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Mets' bullpen needs New Deal

An article in Sunday's Times argues that the Mets should not go after Francisco Rodriguez because he only ranked fourth in the AL this year among closers in a new stat, W.P.A. Also, a drop in K-Rod's velocity means increased injury risk, especially considering what happened to Billy Wagner this year.

The article makes some good points, and there are valid reasons for being wary of giving K-Rod a five-year deal. But I am tired of reading arguments that must come up with new stats with names that sound like they'd be more at home in FDR's New Deal while ignoring the basic facts about K-Rod:

  • He has saved more than forty games four years in a row.
  • He helped pitch the Angels to a World Series title in 2002.
  • Even in a year in which, aside from saves, his statistics were supposedly off, K-Rod still had an ERA of 2.24 and a batting average against of .216. Even with his reduced strikeout rate, he still fanned 77 in 68 1/3 innings.
  • He is only 26 years old.
  • Oh, and by the way, he set the all-time saves record in 2008 with 62.

My favorite passage from the Times article ends up making a more telling point about the Mets' needs:

Even a healthy closer can have only so much impact on a team. If a team's top reliever is hurt, the manager can promote the club's set-up man - also a well-above average pitcher - to closer, ensuring that he will still have a strong hurler working the ninth.

It is clear that this writer did not see any Mets games in 2008. But as far as making a point that a good setup man is just as important as a good closer, he is on to something there.

If the Mets do sign K-Rod and call it a day with the bullpen, you can bet he won't be getting 62 saves again, because the Mets' bridge to a closer is currently more like a bridge to nowhere.

Another bit of "conventional wisdom" I'd like to see retired is the notion that the problem with the Mets' bullpen in '08 was that once Wagner got hurt, the other relievers were all moved into unsuitable roles.

Let's face it - for some of these guys, the unsuitable role was being on a big-league roster. And even when Wagner was healthy, nobody was laying claim to the setup role.

So the Mets need not just a closer, but a good setup man. Ideally, he would be someone with closing experience, but I'll be happy if the Mets get one closer, much less two, especially since they are already paying Wagner's salary next year. So instead of one solid high-priced setup man, how about two lower-priced good possibilities for the role? (Players like, alas, Matt Lindstrom and Heath Bell).

The Mets bullpen needs a new deal, and what better place to go for that new deal than Las Vegas?

Friday, December 5, 2008

A jolly good idea for A-Rod

The baseball hot stove league may not be on fire just yet, but Alex Rodriguez continues to blaze his way across the news again. Unlike previous offseasons, where he ticked off the likes of Trot Nixon by bragging about his workout regimen, it looks like the most running A-Rod is doing these days is of his mouth.

First off, according to A-Rod's good friend David Ortiz, Alex has decided to play for the Dominican Republic in this spring's World Baseball Classic. Remember in 2006, Alex played for the U.S. team after he first said he wasn't going to play at all. His mother and wife argued it out for two hours, with his wife wanting him to play for Team USA, and his mother wanting him to play for the D.R. I guess now that C-Rod is out of the picture, Alex will do what his mother wants.

But what about Madonna? What if she demands that he play for her adopted homeland, England? True, they don't have a team in the tournament - yet. But that could always change. What ever Madonna wants, Madonna usually gets!

I'm just worried that Alex will pick up Madge's phony British accent. Imagine him talking all highfaluting with Kim Jones in the postgame. That's all we need.

Then again, the Material Girl and No. 13 are supposedly not really dating. Alex claimed to People.com that there is no hanky panky going on between him and Madonna, saying, "We're friends - that's it."

The article also says:
While rumors have swirled that the slugger and the singer, 50, have been carrying on a romantic relationship and flying around the country in order to spend time together, "I can tell you this," Rodriguez says, "I have never been on a plane with her."

Hmmm, really? Then why did TMZ.com run pictures last week of Madonna and Alex getting off a private plane together?

One of the infuriating things about A-Rod is that he says dopey things to the press. And this comment wasn't just dopey, it was dishonest. And easily proven false. It makes me long for the days when he was bragging about skipping spending time with his child in order to work out.

I still think Alex is the greatest player of his generation, but he also needs a nice steaming cup of shut the heck up. Ever since he opted out during the World Series, he's made one blunder after another, with no end in sight. Sheesh.

* * *

In other news, our DVD giveaway is now closed. We will announce the lucky winners next week. Thanks for your interest - we received hundreds of entries!

What do you think about A-Rod? Leave us a comment, or send us an email at subwaysquawkers@gmail.com!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Last call to enter A&E's 'Essential Games' DVDs contest

The deadline to enter our A&E "Essential Games" DVD contest is Friday, December 5 at noon.

For those readers who have not yet entered, here are the details:

To celebrate our new Subway Squawkers location, we're partnering with A&E Home Video for a very special giveaway for our readers. Fifteen lucky readers are going to each get a copy of A&E's terrific "Essential Games" baseball series, which retail for $59.95 each, to Squawker fans.

Each of the DVD sets contain six legendary uncut games, as well as DVD extras. Click below to read more details on each set:

"Essential Games of Yankee Stadium"
"Essential Games of Shea Stadium"
"Essential Games of Fenway Park"

Yes, you Red Sox fans will get your moment in the sun as well. Given how many members of Red Sox Nation post at this site, we thought they should be rewarded as well for being Squawker readers, even if it does mean we're handing out DVDs including the "Where Was Roger" and the "4 homers in a row" games. Yikes!

Anyhow, here's how you can enter the giveaway: send an email with your name, address, and phone number to subwaysquawkers@gmail.com . Also, please put "DVDs" in the subject line, and let us know which DVD set you would prefer to receive. There is one entry per person. But feel free to tell your friends about our site - and the contest.

After the conclusion of the contest, the good folks at A&E will randomly pick five winners for the Met set, five for the Yankee set, and five for the Red Sox set. They will mail out the steel-cased DVD series sets to the winners. These DVDs make great holiday gifts.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Rickey Henderson: Deal him in to the Hall

Squawker Lisa and reader Jonmouk71, card games or no, Rickey Henderson is a first-ballot Hall of Famer. And it's not his fault that Met fans' most recent memories of him are him somehow being hired as a coach in 2007.

And as for Gil Hodges vs. Allie Reynolds for the Veterans ballot, obviously I'm going with Gil, though I concede that his overall managing record wouldn't do it on its own, so it has to be more for his playing days and overall body of work.

As for Reynolds, I don't think two no-hitters in one year is a qualifying stat, though maybe I'm just bitter because the Mets have no no-hitters in 47 years. (Yes, reader Uncle Mike, it does matter to me! And thanks for not piling on when you mentioned Seaver, Gooden and Cone pitching no-hitters after leaving the Mets and left out Nolan Ryan.)

And Reynolds has six rings? So does Willie Randolph!

The guy I most think has been unjustly left out of the Hall is Jack Morris, who won 254 games and had dominant performances in two World Series - 1984, when he won two complete games with an ERA of 2, and 1991, when he won two games in three starts with an ERA of 1.17, including the classic Game 7, when he pitched a complete game, 10-inning shutout on three days rest, beating Atlanta and outdueling John Smoltz, 1-0. Morris was named World Series MVP. Complete games were more common then, but his achievements are still really impressive.

But as for the Veterans' ballot, it includes another former Mets manager who will need to rely more on other credentials to make the Hall. Lisa and Jonmouk71 and all you other Yankee fans out there - surely you haven't forgotten about Joe Torre!

Hot stove debates to fire up New York fans

I'm going to turn this morning's squawk over to reader Jonmouk71, who suggested these blog topics in a comment on another thread:
Hey guys, instead of the silly name of field debate, how about something to stir up Yankee and Met fans alike:

1. Rickey Henderson - a first ballot HOF? - stats say yes, but his presence in both Yankee and Met clubhouses were definitely a negative (he helped get Yogi fired in 1985)

I have to say Rickey may have been a first-class clown, but he's still a first-ballot Hall of Famer, which I'm guessing he will be this January (in an Oakland uniform, I'm assuming.) And he should be remembered for his speed and talent. For example, did you know that Henderson holds the Yankee all-time team stolen base record, at 326, even though he only played less than five years for the Bombers? That's amazing.

But yeah, New York fans think of some very negative things when it comes to Rickey. My biggest memory of Henderson as a Yank is when he showed up for the first day to spring training and announced, "I don't need no press, man." And I know Squawker Jon won't forget Henderson playing cards while the Mets were losing in the playoffs.

Another player on the Hall of Fame ballot this year is Jim Rice, in his last year of eligibility. This Yankee fan thinks he deserves to be in the Hall. But Rice's big mistake, in my view, was being surly to the press in his playing days. Who knows how much support that has cost him over the years. Despite all that, I do think this is the year Rice finally makes it in, though.

Other names on the ballot for the first time this year include David Cone and Mo Vaughn. Squawker Jon is clearing his calendar for Mo-Licious' HOF induction!

Another argument our reader Jonmouk71 suggested was this one:

2. The Vet Committee: Gil Hodges or Allie Reynolds? Hodges gets a lot of support for his Dodger career (2 rings) and managing the 1969 Mets - but he never won more than 83 games in any other years he managed. Reynolds has 6 rings and the wear and tear of starter-bullpen-starter-bullpen gave him only 182 victories in a short 13 year career. But he was a dominant pitcher in his time and two no-no's in 1951 make him worthy.

I would say Reynolds over Hodges, but I will let Squawker Jon argue this in more detail.

In other news, there are only two more days to enter our A&E Essential Games DVD giveaway. Click here to do so.

What say you? Leave us a comment!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Just say no to Bobby Abreu

No, Squawker Lisa, I don't want Bobby Abreu on the Mets next year. First of all, he's lefthanded, and the Mets need a righthanded bat in the outfield. Second, the Mets have a pitching staff that allows a lot of fly balls, and having an outfielder who is afraid of the wall just won't do.

But most importantly, the Phillies were so eager to get rid of Abreu that they gave him up for virtually nothing. Even with a salary dump, they should have been able to get at least one decent prospect from the Yankees. But the Phillies didn't think Abreu was a winning player, so they sent him packing in the middle of the '06 season.

In the two-plus years that Abreu has been in New York, I can't honestly say that he has come across as the kind of guy you wouldn't want on your team. But in the first full year he was off the Phillies, they broke their playoff drought, and the following year won the World Series.

Meanwhile, the Yankees have continued to underachieve with Abreu. Coincidence? Maybe so. But there's no need to test the theory by signing another aging player.

Arbitrate this! Yanks decline arbitration on Abreu, Pettitte

So, the Yanks announced yesterday that they were offering salary arbitration to - nobody.

Maybe I'm a worrywart, but I have to say that I have a bad feeling about the Bombers declining arbitration on Bobby Abreu and Andy Pettitte, and I'm afraid this decision will turn out badly.

While I do want Andy back, I'm mixed on having Abreu return, but at any rate, I'd like the Yanks to get those draft picks. And if Pettitte walks out the door, the way Roger Clemens did after 2003, without the Yanks even getting any draft picks for him, I will be doubly peeved. Especially if Andy goes to the Dodgers. Don't forget, of course, that Clemens and Pettitte share the same agents - the Hendricks brothers.

And while Brian Cashman claimed the Bombers were engaged in contract discussions with Abreu, the right fielder's people said they hadn't talked with the GM since the season ended. I wouldn't be surprised to see Abreu as a Met next year. What say you, Squawker Jon?

Other Yankee free agents not to get arbitration offers include Jason Giambi, Ivan Rodriguez, Carl Pavano, Mike Mussina, Chad Moeller and Sidney Ponson. I don't have a problem with not trying to keep any of these guys, particularly Pavano. What would he have gotten, any way? Would it have been like a game of "Operation," where he received money for each injured body part?

Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports suggests that yesterday's events are an austerity move due to the bad economy, writing, "Yes, even the filthy-rich Yankees are cutting back. By their definition, anyway."

The Yankees planned this new stadium on a faulty assumption - that the amount of money they could raise the ticket prices for was infinite. And now they're going to have to realize that there aren't that many people who can afford to pay $2500 a ticket for a baseball game. Not that I have a whole lot of sympathy for the Bombers on this. While I did think it was time to build a new stadium, I wish they had kept the average fan in mind, instead of focusing on the martini bar, steakhouse, and luxury boxes.

* * *

In these bad economic times, we're offering a great giveaway, where 15 of our readers will win A&E Essential Games 6-DVD sets. Just let us know if you'd like the Yankee Stadium, Shea Stadium, or Fenway park discs, and enter the contest here.

And thanks to Bombers Beat, Confessions of a She-Fan, and Ultimate Banter for talking up our giveaway, and linking to us.

What do you think the arbitration non-moves? Leave us a comment!