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Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Why Are Mets Promoting Jose Reyes and Carlos Beltran for All-Star Game?

Just got an email from mets.com: REYES, BELTRAN NEED YOUR VOTES! Yeah, that's the way to cheer up a fan base - tell them to support players that may not even be in Met uniforms by the All-Star Game.

Maybe Jose Reyes and Carlos Beltran would have more votes if their owner hadn't publicly criticized them last week.

Perhaps Fred Wilpon can make it up to Reyes by voting for him - just so long as he doesn't get Carl Crawford vote totals.

And Wilpon can vote for Beltran, but fill out multiple ballots with other outfielders so Beltran only gets 65-70% of his support.

The one thing we won't see from the Mets is truth in marketing:

Vote for Jose Reyes and Carlos Beltran - increase their trade value!

Vote for Reyes and Beltran - it may be years before another Met has any hope of being voted onto the team!

Enjoy these Met All-Star performances while you can - starting in 2012, the Mets will only get someone on the team because every team has to have an All-Star. (But at least Justin Turner will be able to tell his grandkids he was an All-Star.)

I'd love to vote for Reyes - to sign a new contract with the Mets. As for Beltran, I vote for him to find a team that appreciates him.

In the end, many fans, including this one, will be voting with their wallets. And the exit polls on that score are looking pretty grim.

Perhaps the person most in favor of the Mets' latest dubious marketing ploy is incoming investor David Einhorn. ESPN's Adam Rubin suggests that Einhorn may be counting on the team to tank financially so that he can eventually take it over.

And a good way to make Met fans even angrier is to ask them to cast their All-Star votes for Reyes and Beltran - to think of them as the stars they are, just as ownership is no longer able or willing to pay for stars.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Remembering Dana Brand

Lisa and I had the pleasure of meeting Dana Brand at a SABR event in February 2010. Dana read from his book "The Last Days of Shea: Delight and Despair in the Life of a Met Fan." Almost all of the mainstream media wrote about Shea Stadium as a dump that would not be missed. It was refreshing to hear someone discuss Shea, the ballpark of most Met fans' formative years, so passionately and eloquently.

Now Shea is gone and, shockingly, so too is Dana, way too soon at 56. Not only was Dana a central part of the Met blogging community, but he also was willing to help out a Yankee fan like Lisa when she interviewed Met bloggers for a piece she wrote for The Faster Times.

Dana inscribed my copy of "The Last Days of Shea" as follows:

To Jon
A fellow long-suffering still-believing Met fan.
Someday. . .
Dana Brand
2/6/10

I still can't believe that when someday finally comes, Dana won't be there to share it with all of the long-suffering, still believing Met fans.

Lisa and I send our thoughts and prayers to Dana's family.

We really regret that we only got to meet Dana and hear him speak that one time. Here are two remembrances from people that knew him much better - Greg Prince and Howard Megdal.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

On the Yankees' Walkoff Win, "Glee," "Dancing With the Stars," and the Mets

I was watching last night's Yankee game until 9 p.m., when I switched over to the season finale of "Glee." Hey, don't judge. I don't like to watch season finales on DVR or tape delay, because I know that even if I wait an hour to watch it, I'll come across somebody talking about the show in question on Twitter or Facebook or online, I'll get ticked off that the show was spoiled, and it will ruin my enjoyment. So I'd rather prevent the aggravation and watch it live.

Anyhow, because of that, I missed watching the end of the Yankees' exciting walkoff win live, although I did catch it later, after watching the season finale of "Dancing With the Stars." I was happy to see Hines Ward, who I have rooted for all season, take the mirror ball trophy home! I still want to see a baseball star on DWTS one day, though.

It was good to see the Yankees have an old-fashioned rally, and they looked about as happy as I've seen the team all year!

In other news, there's word that Rafael Soriano is going to visit Dr. Andrews, which is never a good thing. Brian Cashman looks vindicated on that signing, that's for sure!

* * *
As for the Mets' mess, there have been some really good articles written criticizing Fred Wilpon. In his piece "Choose the Mets," my friend Mark Healey suggests not putting any money into the Mets' coffers until Wilpon is gone. Ian O'Connor has an angry column which asks that Bud Selig take over the team. "Enough is enough is enough," O'Connor sez. "If wresting the Mets from Wilpon isn't in the best interests of baseball, what the hell is?"

And Mike Vaccaro of the New York Post wonders when the fans will get an apology from Wilpon:
When Wilpon described the Mets as, um, “sh***y,” what he did was admit what we’ve long suspected: that he plays his own fans for suckers, chumps, rubes, that he believes they drive to work on the same turnip truck he so vehemently wants us to believe he rides in on (or else how could poor Fred — a good man — have been so relentlessly duped by so many.
Wilpon may believe he is, in the words of that New Yorker piece, "snakebitten," but I think it's interesting how many times a supposedly smart and good man has been "fooled" so many times. Aside from the Madoff issue, and having Kirk Radomski as a clubhouse staffer back in the day, there's the whole Charlie Samuels scandal.

Samuels, who worked for the Mets for 30 years, and was their longtime clubhouse manager, not only was a clubhouse snitch for ownership, but he was involved with illegal gambling (the second Mets employee to be busted for such a thing). And he also was recently charged with swiping $2.3 million in stolen Mets autographed memorabilia from the clubhouse and storing them elsewhere to sell. According to a news story about the theft, the items recovered included "507 signed and unsigned jerseys, 304 hats, 828 bats, 22 batting helmets and 10 equipment bags." And nobody noticed a thing? Are you kidding me?
What do you think? Tell us about it!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Is Coffee the Met Fan/Yankee Fan Dog Being Abused?

Last year, I wrote an article about Coffee, the Met fan dog who wore a David Wright jersey, a pipe, sunglasses, glasses, a bandana, and a Mets cap.

My scoop was that I was the first to notice that this dog, seen as a "Met fan" asking for money outside CitiField, was pawing both sides of the street -- he also showed up dressed as a Yankee fan asking for money during the playoffs! Click on my original article to see the pix. I thought it was funny that even a dog would change baseball alliances when it was convenient! I guess money talks.

Anyhow, a few weeks ago, I  noted on our page view reports that we were getting a lot of traffic on that old story, and a whole bunch of new comments. I didn't understand why people were reading the piece. Then I saw that there was a Facebook group called Stop Abusing Coffee set up, with a link to my own article, among other stories about the dog. The page said that "Coffee the dog that is forced to sit outside of Citi Field before, during & after EVERY Mets home game needs to stop being abused."

Anyhow, I didn't want to accuse the owner of abuse without hearing or seeing evidence of it, so I held off on writing something right away. Then the Gothamist site ran several stories last week, with photo evidence of Coffee having to wear a shock collar to stay in line. Yikes! Then they ran a photo of Coffee's owner, apparently holding the controls for the shock collar, a picture where it looks like Coffee does not have any teeth!

The latest news is that Coffee's owner had her pretending to be a Yankee fan outside Yankee Stadium during the Subway Series this past weekend, and some concerned folks took some more pictures. This story is now blowing up -- it's one of the lead items on today's Drudge Report.

A lot of people have called the Mets, the ASPCA, and other animal rights groups to get this stopped, to no avail. You can read more about this issue at the Stop Abusing Coffee page. Here's hoping for a happy resolution to this story.

What do you think? Tell us about it!

Sorry, Squawker Jon, Fred Wilpon Is No George Steinbrenner

Squawker Jon writes that "Fred Wilpon is George Steinbrenner without the success." I take issue with that comparison. Steinbrenner was a winner; Wilpon, with all his "snakebitten" talk; is just a whiner.

Mike Lupica, who slammed the Yankee front office last week for not covering up for Jorge Posada's sitdown strike, has a much more positive take today on Wilpon throwing his stars under the bus. (Shocker, I know.) He writes, "Steinbrenner used to say everything about everybody, even Don Mattingly, then trash the Bronx for good measure. Now we build monuments to him." Um, no. Steinbrenner didn't get a monument for calling Dave Winfield Mr. May. He got it for winning seven World Series rings.

Fred Wilpon has one ring, back from when he co-owned the team with Nelson Doubleday. And it was Doubleday who, back when he co-owned the team, pushed for them to sign Mike Piazza, the way George Steinbrenner would have. If it had been up to Wilpon, the Mets would still be looking for another playoff appearance since the late 80s. And the only monument Wilpon will ever get is a monument to stupidity.

Whatever you can say about Steinbrenner, he was a Yankee fan through and through. And he really had a feel for Yankee tradition. It was The Boss who brought Mel Allen back into the Yankee fold, over a decade after he had been unceremoniously fired by the Yankees front office as a broadcaster. Steinbrenner also got Roger Maris to put on pinstripes again, and later retired his number. (Yes, Mets, people actually get their numbers retired. It's 25 years since 1986, and there hasn't been a single Met with his number retired from that era. What's up with that?)

Even when The Boss fought with people, he eventually brought them back in the fold. Like Billy Martin, Yogi Berra, and even Dave Winfield, who suffered the worst of Steinbrenner's wrath.

Steinbrenner's "Yankee way" pep talks and signs may have made some players roll their eyes, but there is no doubt which team he loved: The New York Yankees. On the other hand, it's pretty clear that Fred Wilpon's first baseball love is the Brooklyn Dodgers, with the Mets just an afterthought to his childhood dreams.

Citi Field when it first opened was more of a tribute to Ebbets Field and a time long gone than it was to the actual team playing there. Here are Fred's comments to New Yorker writer Jeffrey Toobin on the issue:
“The first day the architects came to the site, they started saying blah, blah, blah, and I said to them, ‘Let me tell you how this is going to work,’ ” Wilpon told me recently. “ ‘The front of the building is going to look like Ebbets Field. And it’s going to have a rotunda—just like at Ebbets.’ And then I said, ‘Guess what. Here are the plans for Ebbets Field.’ And I handed them over.”
He also told Toobin:


Today, as Wilpon negotiates with possible investors, he says it’s clear that the team is worth more than a billion dollars. “There’s one National League franchise in New York,” he said. “Fifty years from now, there’s going to be one National League franchise in New York. That’s a very valuable thing.”
I'm sorry, I'm not really feeling the Mets love here -- he can't even muster up the name of his own team when saying how valuable it is!
While Wilpon did eventually acknowledge that he overdid it in Citi Field with the Brooklyn love: "All the Dodger stuff—that was an error of judgment on my part," he tells Toobin, he still seems more interested in walking down memory lane than embracing the team he currently owns. George Steinbrenner grew up a Cleveland Indians fan, but the closest he came to embracing his childhood team was hiring Gabe Paul and Bob Lemon, both of which were good moves.The rest of his life was all about Yankeedom.
Finally, Steinbrenner would never have agreed with Wilpon calling his team snake-bitten. Instead, The Boss would surely have agreed with Oprah Winfrey's quote that you make your own luck. Here's hoping that Wilpon makes his own luck for the Mets, and sells the entire team. Enough already.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Fred Wilpon: Steinbrenner Without the Success

I am not a fan of George Steinbrenner, but he did resurrect the Yankee brand and bring multiple titles to the Bronx. However, Fred Wilpon's Steinbrenner-type comments on several of his stars in the New Yorker betray a mindset that won't result in any titles and could further damage the Mets' image.

The most successful big-market teams use their payroll advantage to overpay some players. The Yankees, with their $200 million payroll, can land a CC Sabathia by giving him tens of millions of dollars more than any other team. A.J. Burnett got a contract that seemed crazy at the time and seems crazier now. But the signings of Sabathia and Burnett, along with Mark Teixeira (who appears to have gotten market value), produced a World Series title for the Yankees in their first season.

The Red Sox and the Phillies have had plenty of questionable signings- John Lackey and Raul Ibanez, just to name two recent ones. Cliff Lee is 32 with a five-year contract. What are the odds that he will be great all five years?

But the willingness of the Yankees, Red Sox and Phillies to spend big on several players, knowing that not all of them will justify their investment, that most if not all will offer diminishing returns over the life of their long contracts, results in these teams being perennial contenders.

The Mets have shown all too often that simply spending lots of money is no guarantee of success. But they have also shown that overpaying for stars can quickly bring a team to the brink of the World Series.

The Mets won 71 games in 2004. Over the next two offseasons, they signed Pedro Martinez, Carlos Beltran and Billy Wagner and traded for Carlos Delgado. In 2006, the Mets won 97 games.

Beltran finished fourth in MVP voting that season and Delgado finished twelfth. Wagner was sixth in Cy Young voting. Pedro made the All-Star team in 2006 before he got hurt.

Combining these expensive pieces with another acquisition, Paul Lo Duca, and homegrown stars Wright and Reyes (who both were top 10 in MVP voting in 2006) got the Mets to Game 7 of the 2006 NLCS.

Many Met fans probably agree with Wilpon that the Beltran signing didn't pay off in the long run. As much as I like Pedro, his signing was not a success - he was only healthy for a year and a half out of four. Both Wagner and Delgado saw their Met tenures cut short by injuries.

One could argue that all four of these players failed to return full value on their contracts. But thanks to this combination of players, the Mets were a top contender for three seasons - 2006-8.

Say what you will about Beltran, but the Mets would not have been a contender in those years without him.

And Fred Wilpon regrets signing him.

Beltran is a Scott Boras client who probably wanted to leave the Mets even before the latest mess. The Mets are unlikely to retain him at anything approaching a reasonable value.

But Reyes is a much different case. The Mets may well have to overpay for him, but what the Mets consistently fail to realize is that it's better to overpay for a great player than try to save money by signing a lesser light to a still-big contract.

Two years ago, there were a couple of power-hitting left fielders on the free agent market. The Mets got Jason Bay for $66 million while the Cardinals got Matt Holliday for $120 million. Holliday didn't seem to be twice as good as Bay, so it looked like the Mets got a good deal. But as of now, Bay is almost worthless, while Holliday is a perennial MVP candidate on a pennant contender.

After the 2008 season, the Mets might have signed Derek Lowe for $60 million. Instead, they signed Oliver Perez for $36 million. Lowe has not been that great with the Braves and this year he has been charged with a DUI. But Lowe won 31 games with the Braves in 2009-10. During those years, Perez won three.

If the Mets had spent more money on Lowe instead of less on Perez, things could have been a lot different the last two seasons.

Yes, the 2011 Mets show the perils of overpaying too many players. But if you're going to overpay anyone, Reyes and Wright, two regular All-Stars when healthy who are still under 30, are a good place to start. And think of the potential alternatives:

The Phillies may be in a market for a shortstop next year, with the declining Jimmy Rollins also in his contract year this season.

What if Derek Jeter hits .240 and the Yankees miss the playoffs? Does the Yankees signing Reyes still seem so unlikely?

What if David Wright decides to become a free agent right around the time the Yankees are ready to shift A-Rod to DH? Oh, and Wright also would be a big upgrade at third for the Phillies.

Think the Yankees and Phillies wouldn't love to stick it to the Mets and pilfer their biggest names? The Phillies are so eager to show up the Mets that they even signed Luis Castillo after the Mets cut him. The Yankees turned all-time Mets Darryl Strawberry and Dwight Gooden into important Yankees as well.

Reyes is no Tom Seaver, but at least M. Donald Grant didn't send The Franchise to the Yankees.

Last year, the Twins signed Joe Mauer to a huge contract. Now Mauer is hurt and his catching days may be numbered. It's unclear whether Mauer will justify his contract.

But the Twins realized they had no choice but to retain the face of their franchise. Now, even though the Twins have the worst record in baseball, per-game attendance is barely down from last year, when the Twins debuted their new ballpark. Twins fans know that the previously cheap team can now hold on to their stars.

Meanwhile, Rays' attendance and TV ratings are plummeting, even though the team is percentage points out of first place. But the Rays said goodbye to Matt Garza, Carlos Pena and Rafael Soriano. And they refused to give Carl Crawford money to Carl Crawford. Rays fans know that whatever success the team has will be short-lived because they can't hold on to their good players.

Fred Wilpon wanted to bring back the era of the 1950s by modeling Citi Field after Ebbets Field. Instead, he may end up bringing back the era of the late 1970s, when Grant's unwillingness to pay his stars turned Shea Stadium into "Grant's Tomb."

Subway Series: Yankees Win First Go-Round Against Mets; Fred Wilpon Flaps His Gums

Sweet! Not only did the Yankees beat the Mets two games to one this weekend, but I woke up to the news that Mets owner Fred Wilpon has made Hank Steinbrenner look like Silent Cal Coolidge. The New York Times reports that this week's New Yorker has an interview with Frugal Freddy. In the piece, Wilpon criticizes his own players, including Jose Reyes, David Wright, and Carlos Beltran. Wilpon even does the "Beltran standing like a statue" bit I have been mocking Squawker Jon with for years.

Before I get to yakking about Sunday, I just want to point out some of the gems Wilpon unleashed on Jeffrey Toobin when they watched a game together last month. Wilpon's so-over-the-top insulting, he makes Brian Cashman's offseason quotes look subdued. A few examples:

* David Wright: "A really good kid. A very good player. Not a superstar."

* Carlos Beltran: "'We had some dummy in New York, Wilpon says, referring to himself, “who paid him based on that one series. He’s 65 to 70 percent of what he was." He later mocks the Beltran called third strike in the 2006 NLCS with a pantomine of it.

* Jose Reyes:  "He thinks he’s going to get Carl Crawford money. He’s had everything wrong with him. He won’t get it."

The Times' Tyler Kepner, who wrote the story about the New Yorker profile, thinks this piece is a good thing for Wilpon, saying:
"Such insights may bother the players, who will surely be asked about them before their next game on Tuesday in Chicago. But they humanize Wilpon, and for him, that is something. For fans, winning owners are easily the best kind. But owners who empathize with their feelings probably come in second."
Oh, please. At the risk of speaking out of turn as a Yankee fan, I think the only thing Fred Wilpon could do at this point to please Mets fans is to sell the whole team. As our blogging friend Metsradamus sez, "This is the family atmosphere that Tom Glavine once bragged about?  The Gosselins had less dysfunction." True.

I doubt any fan is going to say "Fred's one of us" after reading that story. He or she, in my view, is more likely thinking that Fred is trashing his own stars' abilities in order to have reasons to get rid of them. And it's not like these players are at the end of their careers, but demanding huge paydays from the Mets (like a certain Yankee shortstop) that he's objecting to. No, Wilpon just wants to not have to pay anybody.

* * *

As for the Yankees, that was a nice little home-run free rally Sunday, eh? Eight runs in one inning, and none of them homers! Squawker Jon did totally call it -- he was telling me that the wheels were about to come off with Mike Pelfrey, and thought that Terry Collins should have removed him earlier than he did.

One thing Joe Girardi did that made me second-guess him was batting Jorge Posada sixth. Yes, that's the perfect place for .183 hitters who haven't even hit a home run in a month. Good grief.

What do you think? Tell us about it!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Subway Series: Mets Can't Fight the Power

The world didn't end last night, so the Yankees moving into first place by beating the Mets will have to do. The Yankees got only seven hits, but four of them were homers, leading some to suggest that the Yankees are an all or nothing team.

But I wish the Mets had such problems. Brett Gardner has more homers than last night's cleanup hitter, Jason Bay. And while Bay clearly doesn't belong in that spot, nobody else on the active roster does either.

So the current Mets lineup goes only as far as their pitching takes them, and last night Chris Capuano didn't take them very far. Capuano had been pitching well as of late, allowing only two earned runs in each of his last three starts, but that only got his ERA down to 4.78, and it's now 5.36 after last night's homer barrage. And it's not as if he's that much better at home - his Citi Field ERA is 5.04.

Today's rubber game will be a good test for the Mets' pitching staff. Mike Pelfrey has a 5.11 ERA and 1.54 WHIP for the season, but after a disastrous start, his May ERA is 2.11 and his WHIP is 0.98.

But when Pelfrey pitched against the Yankees at the Stadium last June, he allowed homers to Mark Teixeira and Curtis Granderson. Not a good omen when Granderson is doing so well and Teixeira already has a homer in each game of this series (and a homer in the Baltimore game before that).

So Squawker Lisa, I hope I'm wrong about my prediction that the Mets would take just one of three, but it looks to be an uphill battle for the erratic Pelfrey and the Mets' makeshift lineup.

Lisa and I want to send our best wishes to Gary Carter and his family, and we are hoping and praying for a good outcome.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Subway Series: Mets Give Yankees a Knuckle Sandwich

Boo hoo, Squawker Lisa. The Yankees had to face a knuckleballer last night - that's not fair! Some Yankee excuses from last night's game:

"It's tough to hit whenever you go up against a knuckleballer." - Russell Martin

"There's just no rhyme or reason to it." - Curtis Granderson

"No one knows where it's going so it's kind of hard to have an approach against him" - Derek Jeter

Actually, this year it's kind of hard for Jeter to have an approach against most pitchers, but I digress. The Yankees can make all the excuses they want, but R.A. Dickey had a 5.08 ERA going into last night's Subway Series opener. In his last start, he gave up six runs and 11 hits to the weak-hitting Astros. Even most Met fans didn't think Dickey had a chance to pitch well in the Bronx.

But for one night at least, Dickey looked like the pitcher the cheap new front office was willing to give a two-year contract. It's great to see Dickey come through and Mets pitching continue to be on a roll. The Yankees got just four hits Friday after scoring 13 runs Thursday night. In the Mets' previous two games, they shut out the Nationals, who then scored 17 runs last night. It doesn't matter if half the Mets' lineup is from Triple A if the pitching is this good.

And by the way, for all the Yankees' complaining, Dickey only pitched six innings. While the Mets rotation still looks shaky, the bullpen could be the best the Mets have had since 2006.

Look on the bright side, Squawker Lisa. Maybe the world will end tonight before the Yankees have to think of excuses about why they struggled against Chris Capuano.

Subway Series: Mets Win; Yankee Fans Grumble

Squawker Jon was doing the Snoopy Dance over last night's Mets' 2-1 victory over the Yankees. The YES Network's Jack Curry compared the win to a 15 seed knocking off a 2 seed. And to top it off, as a Red Sox fan friend pointed out, Boston now has a better record than the Yankees, so if the world ends at 6 p.m. tonight, the Sox will have one-upped New York for all eternity this year. Oh, great.

But hey, as Squawker Jon always tells me when I grumble over something, look on the bright side. Soon, Jose Reyes will be making those sparkling, game-saving plays in pinstripes, right?  Dare to dream!

Like I noted yesterday, if the Mets somehow sweep this series, they will have a better record than the Yankees this season. Squawker Jon will be putting on his dancing shoes again if that happens!

* * * 

Joe Girardi was asked this by the New York Post's Kevin Kernan after last night's loss:

When Girardi was asked if he had any thoughts about shaking up his lineup, he offered this with a smile: "The last time I did something, everyone was in an uproar."
 Well, one guy was. That was the move that sent Posada to the nine-spot.
That's wonderful. Joe finally does what needed to be done, in moving the .165 hitter to the nine spot, and now he's so gun-shy by Posada's hissy fit, he's keeping back at seventh, due to worries that Posada will have another sit-down strike. Meanwhile, Brett Gardner, who is hitting .345 in May, is also hitting ninth. How does that work?
Not to mention that reports of Derek Jeter getting out of his year-long funk were greatly exaggerated. He has the worst OPS on the team, and the second-worst on-base percentage, which is kind of not what you want your leadoff hitter to do.

Yes, yes, I know the Yankees hit the Orioles pretty good last night. But they are 6-0 against that team this year, and pretty much destroy them year after year. On the other hand, the Yanks are 1-5 against Boston, 3-4 against Detroit, 2-2 against the White Sox, and 1-2 against Kansas City. The Bombers need to start stepping it up, and soon.


* * *

I watched some of the SNY broadcast to see how the other half lives. They noted that Freddy Garcia, who pitched very well last night, has the nickname "The Chief," due to his resemblance to the character in "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest." I see him as more of The Rock, but that's me.

Then, I polled Facebook friends as to who which celebrity Russell Martin looks like. People came up with Rick Shroeder, Jon Favreau, and David Denman (Roy from "The Office")!

What do you think? Tell us about it!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Subway Series and the End of the World

Apparently, the world will end just before the second game of the Subway Series. This would mark the second straight Saturday night Yankee game preceded by an apocalyptic event, following last week's Posada Adventure.

As Squawker Lisa never fails to remind me, the Mets experienced their own form of doomsday during the Subway Series two years ago courtesy of Luis Castillo. That dismal year also included Francisco Rodriguez walking Mariano Rivera with the bases loaded. Unfortunately for me, Lisa and I were at both of those games.

Last year, we were lucky enough to get to sit in Legends seats for a Subway Series game at Yankee Stadium. Here's how long ago that game seems - Mike Pelfrey and Phil Hughes were both 9-1. Pelfrey's loss that day sent him into a weeks-long tailspin. Hughes went into a tailspin in the second half and still hasn't come out of it. And now he's on the DL.

At least Jose Reyes hit two homers that day. But it'll really be doomsday if Reyes is hitting homers next year at Yankee Stadium in a Yankee uniform.

This will be the first Subway Series in years without Castillo and Oliver Perez on the roster. Castillo's time with the Mets wasn't all bad, but in 365 games, his overall OPS was just .691. It's hard to win with that kind of OPS in your lineup.

But Lisa, the Yankees sure seem willing to try, with Derek Jeter (2011 OPS .636) and Jorge Posada (2011 OPS .672) holding down two lineup spots.

And Jeter and Posada are making a total of $28 million this season, which is a lot more than the $18 million the Mets are paying Castillo and Perez for 2011.

Prediction: Mets take one of three. Bleacher Creatures do roll call for potential future Yankees Carlos Beltran and Reyes. Mets GM Sandy Alderson tries to lead them in a chant for K-Rod. Beltran homers and John Sterling has a home run call ready to go: "A belt for Beltran!"

Subway Series: Mets' Pitcher Pedro Beato Sez "I Hate the Yankees"

I was on the phone today with Squawker Jon, when I asked him if he had heard the news about Pedro Beato. "What, is he injured again?" Jon groaned. Then Jon corrected me on the pronunciation of the Mets' pitcher's name (I was saying it as Beat-o!)

Anyhow, I told Jon the news: Beato is causing a hubbub today over him telling Bergen Record writer Steve Popper that he hates the Yankees. Here's the direct quote:
"I hate the Yankees," said reliever Pedro Beato, speaking as a native New Yorker, not out of any actual animosity for the crosstown rivals. "My family – I can tell there are no Yankees fans.

"I think I know more than those guys, not the older guys obviously because they’ve been in this situation. I’ve been to games. I know how crazy the fans can be. As a player you shouldn’t let that get to you. I know it doesn’t get to me. I’d rather play in these situations than play in a game where there’s not that many fans. That’s the whole excitement of the game, how the fans get into the game, how they cheer their team, the loudness and craziness of the crowd."
I just looked to see if Beato took this back, saying how much he respects the Yankees, blah blah blah, and that he was quoted out of context, but it looks like he's sticking with what he said. And even though I don't agree with the sentiment, good for him. It gives people something to talk -- or squawk -- about besides griping about how the Subway Series doesn't mean as much as it used to. And he kind of had a backhanded slap at Mets fans, talking about playing in games where there aren't many fans. You know, kind of like what happens at Citi Field every night!

But guess what? The Mets are not quite as pathetic this year as we Yankee fans seem to think they are. The Yankees' record is 23-19, and they are one game out of first place. The Mets are 21-22, and five games out of first. If the Mets swept the Yankees this weekend, they would actually have better record than the Bombers. Imagine that!

But I don't think that will happen --  I say the Yankees will win two out of three. I am not sure who will win which game, though! Don't want to jinx any of the games!

Jon and I were talking about which members of the other team we like. Jon says his favorite Yankees are Mariano Rivera and Pedro Feliciano (I'm appreciative of the first one, and snickereing about the second one!) As for myself, I like Ike (Davis), R.A. Dickey, and Carlos Beltran -- I think Beltran gets a bum rap, the way A-Rod did. But it's a little bittersweet this year, with me having to cope with the loss of Luis Castillo, who had the best play ever in a Subway Series! Fortunately, Mike Vaccaro wrote a great article today recapping the Castillo game. Check it out!

Who is your favorite or least favorite Met or Yankee? Tell us about it!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Listen to Me Talk Yankee Baseball With a Bunch of Mets Fans

I will be on the Kult of Mets Personalities radio show at 9:30 p.m. tonight. In preparation for the Subway Series, I will be squawking about the Yankees with the Met fans on the show. Go here to listen to us live.

On Jorge Posada's Future, The Ringo Nickname, and Who the Real Core Yankees Are

NBC Sports' Hardball Talk writes today about an ESPN New York article about Jorge Posada's future with the Yankees -- specifically, whether he will be gone before the year is over. The original piece says that the Yankees "will reconsider Jorge Posada's future with the team if his numbers don't improve by the All-Star break, according a baseball official with knowledge of the Yankees' thinking." The article also says:
By the All-Star break, the Yankees will have three options. They can stick with him, trade him or release him. One team source optimistically said it would be to stick with him. Posada is hitting .179.

"When it comes to Posada, I think he's going to be better," said one Yankee insider.
What's missing in this story, and pretty much missing from most of the coverage, are these facts: in the first 36 games of the season, Posada started 32 of those games, missing four games. Including the Saturday sitdown, he has not started in four of the next five games, although he did pinch-hit on Sunday. Don't expect to see Posada much against lefties anytime soon, thanks to his 0-for-24 numbers against them this year. For now, at least, he's a part-time player.

Anyhow, lots of fans are talking about the article, and what it all means. I think it all depends upon whether the Yankees are winning. If Posada continues to hit poorly, but the Yankees are rolling on all cylinders, I could see them keeping him on indefinitely, albeit in that smaller role. If he's hitting poorly, and the team is losing, I could see Brian Cashman making a big shakeup -- sooner than the All-Star Break -- the way he did in 2005 when moving Bernie Williams out of center field, Tony Womack off second base, and bringing up Robinson Cano.

This time around, my guess would be that if Jorge never gets it together, and the team is slumping, they would release Posada and call up either Jorge Vazquez or Jesus Montero from AAA. Vazquez is hitting .308 in AAA and has 14 homers, 41 RBI and a .361 OBP. Montero is hitting .318 in AAA with 2 homers, 12 RBI, and a .350 OBP.

But the trade idea suggested in this piece is just silly. Who are you going to get for a DH hitting .179 and making $13 million this year, even if it would be "only" $6 million left on the contract by the All-Star Break?

* * *
Anyhow, the Hardball Talk piece talks about the ESPN article, and writes: "For this to be any sort of news, it has to mean that the Yankees would cut the Ringo of their Core Four* if he can’t find his stroke." The asterisk has an explanation of why Craig Calcaterra, the writer, came up with calling Posada Ringo, saying:
"Note: this is not a slam on Ringo or Posada. I love both of them. Even named a cat after Ringo once (though he may have been named after the cat in the Dada song “Here Today, Gone Tomorrow,” I’ll never tell). But let’s be honest: Jeter is Lennon, Rivera is McCartney, Pettitte is George Harrison and Posada, for all of his charms, has to be Ringo by the process of elimination.  Also: this makes Joe Girardi Pete Best!"
Ahem. I just want to note that Squawker Jon first came up with calling Posada "Ringo" in May of 2006, back when Bernie Williams, not Andy Pettitte, was on the team. Jon first used it during our inaugural season of Subway Squawkers, and we got a lot of positive response from our readers because of it. Since then, both Jon and I have run that joke in this blog dozens of times over the years.

The thing is, Posada's greatest years were from 2000-2007. He didn't even become the starting catcher until 1998, and Girardi still shared part of the role with him for '98 and '99. Due to Posada getting that later start, his contributions to the four rings just aren't the same. At any rate, both Jon and I just think that the whole Core Four stuff leaves out some very valid contributions from other important contributors in the dynasty era. Like David Cone, Bernie Williams, and Paul O'Neill, to name three. They were just as "core" to the late 90s as anybody else.

One other note: there is no way Girardi is Pete Best -- he contributed to three rings, for goodness sake!

What do you think? Tell us about it!

Check Out the Subway Series Festivities at Madison Square Park This Weekend

Squawker Jon and I were in Madison Square Park last weekend for their food festival, which was pretty good. But there's even more going on the park this weekend, thanks to the Subway Series, including that food festival. Here is some information on the second annual Delta Dugout event at the park this Friday through Sunday. Squawker Jon and I will be attending one of these days -- we're still arguing (um, I mean debating!) which one that will be! Anyhow, here's the info I received on the event:

Delta Airlines is inviting Mets fans to come out to the second annual Delta Dugout at Madison Square Park, May 20-22, to celebrate the iconic interleague series. The three-day fan experience includes player appearances by current and former Mets players, live game viewing and silent auctions featuring signed Mets memorabilia benefiting the David Wright Foundation.

It will also offer an array of games for baseball enthusiasts, including batting cages and fast pitch competitions, as well as a photo booth, special Delta games and Mets ticket package giveaways throughout the weekend.  Fans will also enjoy ballpark-style concessions and specialty food and beverages, including a special “Delta Dugout hotdog” featured at the Shake Shack throughout the weekend.

Schedule of Events:

Friday, May 20, 11am-10pm, Opening Day

11am-7pm: Gaming Village and Delta Sky360 Lounge: Batting Cages, Fast Pitch, Custom Photo Booth, Delta Destination Challenge, Plane-Ko, Silent Auction, Kids Corner, Dugout Trivia, Specialty Concessions, Giveaways

7pm: Live Viewing of Yankees-Mets series opener with great giveaways, including travel packages from Delta, baseball gear and tickets to future Mets and Yankees games

Saturday, May 21, 11am-10pm

Noon: Home Run Derby Challenge with Josh Thole & Fast Pitch Challenge with Joba Chamberlain

11am-6pm: Gaming Village and Delta Sky360 Lounge: Batting Cages, Fast Pitch, Custom Photo Booth, Delta Destination Challenge, Plane-Ko, Silent Auction, Kids Corner, Dugout Trivia, Specialty Concessions, Giveaways

3pm: Mr. Met Meet & Greet

5:15pm: Bernie Williams Special Pre-game Concert.

7pm: Live Viewing of Yankees-Mets series, game two, with great giveaways, including travel packages from Delta, baseball gear and tickets to future Mets and Yankees games**

Sunday, May 22, 10am-4pm

11am: The 3rd Annual Fan Flair Challenge at the Delta Dugout with phenomenal giveaways to the “most spirited” outfitted Mets and Yankees fan including game tickets, baseball gear and more!

10am-4pm: Gaming Village and Delta Sky360 Lounge: Batting Cages, Fast Pitch, Custom Photo Booth, Delta Destination Challenge, Plane-Ko, Silent Auction, Kids Corner, Dugout Trivia, Specialty Concessions, Giveaways

 1pm: Live Viewing of Yankees-Mets series finale, with great giveaways, including travel packages from Delta, baseball gear and tickets to future Mets and Yankees games

Sorry, But I'm Okay With Joe Girardi Going to Mariano Rivera

I went to sleep around the 12th inning or so last night (I tried to stay up, but I was exhausted from a long day), so I missed the Yankees four-run 15th inning, Robinson Cano's big hit, and the Bombers' eventual victory. At least I got to see Bartolo Colon's great night, and I saw Hector Noesi finally make it into a Yankee game after 16 days sitting around the bullpen. It's cool the Yankees gave him the lineup card for the win.

And best wishes to Chris Dickerson, who had to go to the hospital last night after getting hit in the head by Michael Gonzales.

I was looking at the CBS Sports recap of the game. Looks like every position player made it into the game except for Jorge Posada. And A.J. Burnett (!) pinch ran for Dickerson!

Anyhow, I missed the last few innings. But prior to that, I did see Yankee fans online flipping out over Joe Girardi taking out Colon after eight innings to bring in Mariano Rivera to pitch the ninth.. Twitter and Facebook and Yankee message boards practically blew up with outrage over it, with a lot of fans furious that Colon didn't get to finish the game. And when Mo coughed up the save, fans were ever more unhappy.

I didn't second-guess Girardi on this, for several reasons. First of all, it is not like he went to Boone Logan here. Girardi went to The Greatest Closer of All Time to protect a one-run lead. Are Yankee fans now suggesting that they don't trust in Rivera anymore? If the Yankees can't count on Mo in such situations, then this team is in big, big trouble.

Second, if Colon had given up a run or two in the ninth, you know that Yankee fans would be griping about Girardi not going to The Greatest Closer of All Time instead. 

Third, Colon is no spring chicken -- he's going to be 38 years old this month, and is coming off surgery from last year. Yes, he only threw 87 pitches, but I am okay with Girardi taking him out there. 

* * *

Is it just me who did a double-take seeing the headlines about how A-Rod was going to get his hip examined, and thought he was getting his head examined? Just saying.

What do you think? Tell us about it!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Did Wally Matthews' Boxing Talk Spur A-Rod to Hit Two Homers?

Even though Squawker readers tell me over and over to stop paying attention to what ESPN New York's Wallace Matthews has to say, I still read him every time he writes. Yes, it's a guilty pleasure, although I wouldn't exactly call it a pleasure!

It's more like a "there must be a pony in here somewhere" thing; while he writes a lot of silliness and hyperbole, every so often there is actually something worthwhile or interesting in his columns. And I do appreciate that Matthews has a sense of humor about himself, as evidenced in his tweets.

Anyhow, the reason I am bringing him up today is because of the pre-game talk the baseball (and occasionally, boxing) writer had with Alex Rodriguez yesterday. Matthews details it in his column:
Before the game, sitting in the Yankees' dugout, A-Rod felt like talking. And he felt like talking not about baseball, but boxing.

"What makes this guy Pacquaio so good?" he asked a reporter he knew had covered a fair number of fights.

"Relentlessness," he was told. "Determination. Viciousness."

With each adjective, his eyes got wider. Then, he went out and channeled his inner PacMan, swinging for the KO on every pitch, and later he would say that when he ripped a 3-2 pitch right at the third baseman in his first at-bat, he knew he was coming out of the funk he had been in for the past month.

"I thought my first at-bat set the tone," he said. "I was happy with every swing I took tonight, and I felt like my legs were under me. Just like a boxer."
 Heh! Maybe it was Wally's boxing talk that did it!

Matthews is teasing on Twitter about his influence on Twitter:
I am taking credit for A-Rod's big night so far. B4 the game, we talked boxing and Manny Pac in the dugout. Now, A-Rod's hitting like him
For once, a journalist was a force for good with the Yankees!

Of course, as Matthews points out later in his article, the last Yankee to break out of a slump with a two-homer day was Derek Jeter. Since then, the captain has been hitting just .138 since the slump "ended." So don't get too excited about A-Rod just yet.

What do you think? Tell us about it!

Why I Always Think of Right Said Fred During Rays Home Games

Our long national nightmare is over. The Yankees finally win a game. Oh, what a relief that win last night was. It felt to actually see the Yankees doing the handshakes after the games again, after six pretty painful losses in a row.

Before I get into details of the game, I have to ask if other fellow Yankee fans think of this song -- Right Said Fred's "I'm Too Sexy" -- whenever a ball gets hit on the catwalk of Tropicana Field. Specifically, the part of the song about the catwalk! When there was the controversy over where Kelly Shoppach hit the ball last night, I got this song stuck in my head, and it won't come out!



Anyhow, I was happy to see Alex Rodriguez hit two homers, Ivan Nova show some passion when he threw his glove in the dugout (although I did flinch at first, worried that he might hurt himself!), David Robertson help the Yanks get out of that jam that got Nova out of the game, and that the Yankee lineup was actually able to rally! And welcome to The Show, Chris Dickerson!

Oh, and Jorge Posada got two hits in his return to the lineup. Although my brother says that Posada won the battle with Girardi by being batted seventh again, not eighth or ninth. Speaking of which, why is Brett Gardner batting eighth? After a rough start, he's actually hitting again -- he is .406 over his last nine games.

Anyhow, the win doesn't solve all the Yankees' issues as of late, but it's a nice start!

What do you think? Tell us about it!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Mets Disrespect Jon Niese by Batting Him Ninth

Turmoil rocked the Mets clubhouse today when manager Terry Collins gave Jon Niese no advance warning before posting a lineup that had the pitcher batting dead last.

Niese was blindsided after being one of only two Mets to have an extra-base hit in Monday night's loss to the Marlins (Niese hit a pinch-hit triple in the eleventh inning).

Niese allegedly confronted Collins in the manager's office and demanded to know why he was batting behind the likes of Jason Pridie and Ruben Tejada. According to some reports, Niese told Collins he "needed a day."

Other reports claim that Niese was going to tell Collins that he needed to sit out the game because he had some sort of injury, but he couldn't think of an injury that someone on the Mets hadn't already had this season.

Face of the franchise David Wright reportedly angered Mets management by refusing to criticize Niese. Wright claimed that plenty of players have "needed a day" here and there. When it was pointed out to Wright that he was resisting going on the DL even after finding out that he had a stress fracture in his back, Wright reportedly said something along the lines of, "yeah, but nobody ever tried to bat me ninth."

Fortunately, Tuesday night's game was rained out before the situation could escalate. Now the Mets have some time to figure out how to handle Niese, who is one of the last links to the Mets' glory years (Niese first came up in 2008, the last year the Mets had a winning record).

Did Jorge Posada Really Want Off the Yankees?

So much for the idea that Jorge Posada just needed a day. The Daily News' Bill Madden reported yesterday afternoon that Posada wanted out of the Yankees for good Saturday, not just for the night. Madden writes:
In the heat of his anger and frustration Saturday night, Yankee icon Jorge Posada told general manager Brian Cashman amid a flood of F-bombs that he not only wanted out of the No. 9 spot in the Yankee batting order - he wanted out of the Yankees, too, according to team sources.

This story makes sense to me. As I noted in a previous blog entry, my very first thought when I heard that Posada had pulled himself from the lineup was that he was going to retire. Given that, I'm not surprised that Jorge would reportedly want off the Yankees, especially given that he would apparently still think he could play elsewhere. Because other teams can't wait to get their mitts on a DH who hits .165!

One of my brothers, who is a lawyer, noticed something in the original stories on Brian Cashman talking with Posada Saturday that piqued his interest -- the fact that Cash and Posada were talking with Seth Levinson, one of Posada's agents. My brother wondered why an agent was getting involved over a lineup issue. Now I think we know why. And unless I missed it, I haven't seen any denials from Yankeeland about Posada wanting out for good.
We also have a better inkling on why Cashman decided to address the press on his issue, instead of sweeping it under the rug. Here's what Cash said Saturday, amid criticism about him flapping his gums on FOX:
"We were explaining to Jorgie and his agent, Seth Levinson, what we were going to say and that it would be short and sweet," Cashman said. "The situation that was created by him, then he would have to explain himself after. It was as simple as that. It is common baseball practice to explain after someone is a late scratch in the lineup, they give a reason why."

"I was down there for an hour," Cashman said. "In one instance I was on the phone with Seth and I actually had to hand the phone to Jorgie. I said, 'Here.' Jorgie knew exactly what was being said. This is not a surprise. I'm disappointed about what he said."
So, people criticized Cashman for saying too much. But it sounds like Cash said a lot less than he could have here.

It really does take a special sort of chutzpah for Posada to complain to the media, given the situation, that:

"I didn't know he made a statement. I don't know why he’s going to make a statement during the game, in the middle of the game. I don't understand that. You know, so that's the way he works now," Posada said.
Earth to Posada: The Torre Years are over, and your prime career years are over, too. You can't expect the Yankees to protect you from your own temper anymore when you're hitting .165 and throwing a hissy fit about batting ninth.

Like I said, there is no denial of the story that Posada wanted out, but the DH did deny Madden's later reporting that sources told the writer Posada refused to catch in a spring training game:
"Not at all. Not once. A hundred percent," he said. "Not even close. They told me to go to the bullpen and stuff so I caught in the bullpen every once in a while, but they never asked me (to catch in a game)."
Despite the fact that Posada made up that "back stiffness" story, I believe he's telling the truth here. Not because I think he's a straight shooter, but because it would make zero sense for the Yankees to want him to catch. Given how many times you heard them say since the fall that he needed to think of himself as a designated hitter only, and that his catching days were often, why would they tell him to catch?

So what happens next? I think that Posada handed Cashman a reason to get rid of him on a silver platter. And if Jorge doesn't start hitting -- and soon -- I think he will be off the team by Memorial Day. Contrary to the current media myth that Posada has been so classy and wonderful his whole career, he's always been a little cranky, he's always had a hot temper, and he's always had squabbles with others. But the Yankees could easily overlook Jorge's "proud" (code word for "prickly") personality, and his inability to stay on the same page with others, like pitchers, when he hit up a storm. Now, not so much.

What do you think? Tell us about it!

Where Is the Leadership? Thoughts on Last Night's Game

I really had a feeling on impending doom with last night's game, despite Curtis Granderson hitting yet another home run to help the Yankees. Despite a 5-1 lead, the game felt like the ALCS last year, where you just knew the other team would rally to win. (Incidentally, Granderson was the only Yankee to really sparkle last postseason. Kind of like now.)

And, like last year's ALCS, Joe Girardi left A.J. Burnett in a little too long in the sixth. Note to Joe: When A.J. has given up a homer, two wild pitches, and two singles, as he did in that inning, it's just a matter of time before he gives up the lead, too. Is there anybody, other than Girardi himself, who was surprised by the B.J. Upton home run?

And that was just one of the issues facing the Yankees Monday. First of all, Buster Olney reported, that the Yankees were unhappy with Derek Jeter giving such an impassioned defense of Jorge Posada, and saying that Posada didn't need to apologize to anybody. I can't say I blame them on that, given that, as I noted yesterday, Jeter had a very different reaction to Jason Giambi "needing a day." It took a conference call to put everybody "on the same page," the phrase Jeter uttered about 50 times in pre-game interviews.

Mike Vaccaro of the New York Post writes that "Jeter didn't stick around Saturday to offer his captain's take on the situation, explained a day later that he didn't realize there was a controversy brewing."


Really? That was his excuse, that he didn't know that there was a situation involving his best friend and teammate? Who's the Yankee captain again -- Derek Jeter or Mr. Magoo? I hadn't heard this Jeter excuse before, but it's a doozy. What did he think all the hundreds of reporters gathered around Posada's locker were there for -- to find out who Jorge thought would win "Celebrity Apprentice"?

But let's pretend that we have no concept of the real world, and pretend Jeter really didn't know about the Jorge brouhaha. Saturday's defeat meant that the Yankees had lost four in a row at home, and two games in a row against the Boston Red Sox. Isn't it, um, part of the captain's job to stick around and talk to the media about it?  And isn't it also part of the captain's job to know what the heck is going on in his own clubhouse?

And guess what? The captain wasn't around to talk about last night's loss, either! Wally Matthews writes that most of the Yankees "with the exception of Burnett, Mark Teixeira, Robinson Cano and Rafael Soriano, who was headed back to New York for an examination by Dr. Chris Ahmad after his bullpen session was cut short by recurring elbow stiffness -- had fled the premises before the clubhouse was opened to reporters." Russell Martin also spoke to the press, according to MLB.com. But no Jeter.


As great a player as Jeter has been for his career, you cannot say he is a great captain, without putting on some Yankee-colored glasses. He's no Jason Varitek (as much as it pains me to say something nice about the Red Sox captain.)  And yeah, before anybody brings it up, I noticed that A-Rod was gone last night as well. But Jeter is the one who is supposed to be the team leader, supposed to be the team spokesman, supposed to have something to say when his team has lost six in a row. Why wasn't he there?

And obviously, there was the whole to-do regarding revelations on Jorge Posada wanting off the Yankees, which makes Jeter's insistence that Posada just needed a day look even more ludicrous. I will write my thoughts on the Posada kerfuffle later this morning.

What do you think? Tell us about it!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Hear Squawker Jon, Sully Baseball, and Moi on the Same Radio Show

Our Red Sox fan friend Sully Baseball has graciously invited us to appear on his radio show tonight at 10 p.m. eastern. We will be discussing the Jorge Posada kerfuffle (I love using that word!) Sully and I are very simpatico when it comes to who is right and who is wrong in the brouhaha (I also love using that word!) And you'll also get to hear where Squawker Jon stands. You can listen live at 10 p.m. by going here.

Quit, Quit, Jorge: Yankee Fans Cheer Jorge Posada's Selfish Behavior

Watching the Yankees get swept by the Red Sox Sunday night left a bad taste in my mouth. And the fact that Jorge Posada received two salutes during the evening -- one from the Bleacher Creatures, and then a standing ovation when he pinch-hit for Andruw Jones, made it even worse. Not to mention the dopey "We stand behind Jorge" sign shown on ESPN a gazillion times last night.

Look, I am not a fan of booing your own players. But vociferously cheering Posada was flat-out ridiculous. What, exactly, was he being hailed for? Was it for quitting on his own team? Insubordination? Pretending to be injured, when he really wasn't? Getting his wife to spread that phony story on Facebook and Twitter? Making a rather lame -- and late -- apology the next day? Sitting in the dugout making the Nomar face? Sorry, but there is nothing Posada did this weekend that was worth giving him a standing ovation for.

I don't often use the money card, as all the players, even the rookies, make more than the rest of us. That being said, I don't really have a whole lot of sympathy for somebody making $13.1 million this year (around $81,000 a game) whose .165 average is the worst in the league among hitters who have enough at-bats to qualify for the batting title, begging out of a game because he was put as No. 9 in the lineup. Boo bleeding hoo.

The fact is, Posada should have been moved to that spot weeks ago. But Joe Girardi has been way too deferential in keeping the "core" guys happy, looking fearful of starting a media firestorm. Derek Jeter gets to stay in the leadoff spot, no matter what his stats show. Incidentally, after all the "Jeter's back" stories last Monday, Jeter's back, alright -- back to hitting poorly. He's just 3 for his last 23. And Posada's 9 for his last 62.

Posada has hit mostly in the No. 7 and the No. 6 spots this year, even though, other than the first week of the season, he's been hitting terribly. He's only been in the No. 8 spot once. Meanwhile, Curtis Granderson, the team's MVP so far, has hit in the No. 9 spot four times, and eighth in the order three times. And Russell Martin, who has done a seamless job at replacing Posada as catcher this year, and hit well to boot, has hit 17 times in the No. 8 spot, and 11 times as ninth in the order.

It's funny, Joe Girardi gets such grief about being Joey Looseleafs, the manager obsessed with the stats binder. But can anybody really say that the Yankees' lineup is based on statistics? No, it's based on keeping certain people happy, no matter what their numbers are. And the one time Girardi actually tried to put the .165 hitter where he belongs, in the No. 9 spot, he gets grief for somehow, in the words of Posada, disrespecting him. Puh-lease. (And yes, before anybody brings it up, if it makes sense to move A-Rod further down in the lineup, I'm fine with it.)

I heard a lot yesterday on Facebook that we fans should give Posada a pass, because he's been on the team a long time, and has five rings (he actually has four, but I digress.) No, him being a veteran Yankee makes it even worse. All these years on the team, and he hasn't figured out that it's not cool to throw a hissy fit and refuse to play because he doesn't like his spot in the lineup? Spare me.

But we're all supposed to hail Jorge as some hero because he mouthed a few words of supposed remorse, perhaps because he could be facing a suspension if he didn't do so. Let's talk about that pseudo-apology a bit:
“It’s just one of those days that you wish you could have back,” Posada said. “I talked to Girardi and kind of apologized to him. I had a bad day. Reflecting on it, everything, all the frustration came out. I’m trying to move on.”
No, A-Rod had a bad day, when the ball went through his legs, Bill Buckner-style, last night. Quitting on your team a la Manny Ramirez isn't a bad day; it shows some bad character. And isn't it nice Posada is trying to move on. Whoo-hoo. Also, nothing shows sincerity like saying he "kind of apologized" to his manager for being insubordinate.

In addition, Jorge said, "I did tweak my back a little bit. And I took that as an excuse to tell you the truth. I just needed a day." What a weird coincidence, that he would hurt his back, and need a day, the very night he happened to be penciled in the lineup at No. 9? What, exactly, did he need a day for -- to recover from a bruised ego?

Posada also said, "Everything happens for a reason. You learn from it." But this didn't just happen to him. He is the one who pulled himself from the lineup less than an hour before the game because he felt disrespected. If he hasn't figured out that this isn't a good thing to do, then I don't really know what to say.

And how about the Yankee captain's defense of his best friend? First, he was MIA after Saturday's game, not talking to the press at all. Then, he defended Posada's behavior, saying:
My reaction was that I didn't think it was that big a deal," Jeter said about the Posada incident. "If you need a day, you need a day.


"It's over. It's done," Jeter said. "It's not the first time a player asked out of a lineup. Joe says if you feel like you need a day, let him know. It's understandable."
Of course, the fact that Posada is Jeter's best friend had nothing to do with his reaction, right? 

Jeter is right that this isn't the first time a Yankee has asked out of a game. But when it involved another player, he didn't have quite so blase a response. Page 241 of Ian O'Connor's book "The Captain" details how angry the captain was when Jason Giambi asked out of Game 5 of the 2003 World Series, with Jason telling Joe Torre that his knee was bothering him.

The book characterizes Jeter as "furious Giambi had begged out of the lineup on a night he was healthy enough to hit a home run." O'Connor writes, "Asked if players were upset with Giambi, one Yankee said, "It was more like rage, and Jeter was hotter than anyone. It was like, 'Are you [bleeping] kidding me?'"

Anyhow, I can get that the Yankees want to sweep this brouhaha under the rug and move on. And I get that Posada is only part of the team's problems. But sorry, I am not going to join the mob cheering like Jorge Posada cured cancer or something. What he did Saturday was completely unacceptable, and should not be celebrated, no matter how many rings Posada has.

What do you think? Tell us about it!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Jorge Posada Pulls a Manny Ramirez After Joe Girardi Bats Him Ninth

As soon as I heard the news that not only had Jorge Posada had pulled himself out of the lineup last night, two hours after he got the news that he would be batting ninth, but that he had reportedly thrown a fit over the situation, another player came to mind -- Manny Ramirez. And it wasn't exactly a positive comparison.

Remember in late July 2008, when Manny asked out of the lineup before the start of a Yankees-Red Sox series? He claimed his knee was bothering, then couldn't seem to remember which knee it was that hurting? The Red Sox ran MRIs on both knees that night, found nothing, and traded him to the Dodgers a few weeks later.

Granted, Posada doesn't have Manny's track record, but he quit on his team last night, before a Yankees-Red Sox game, because his ego couldn't take the humiliation of being batted ninth. And it's just as unacceptable, in my view, as what Ramirez pulled that time. Sorry, Yankee fans, but it's true. 

And here's another comparison to make your skin crawl -- what is the difference between Posada glowering on the bench last night, and Nomar Garciaparra glowering on the bench in the July 1, 2004 "Jeter dives into the stands" game? 

On the other hand, I don't remember A-Rod throwing a "hissy fit," as Jack Curry said a Yankee official told him Posada did, after Joe Torre humiliated him by batting him eighth in the 2006 ALDS. Or begging out of the game, either.

Anyhow, Squawker Jon and I were hoping a reporter would ask Posada, "Where do you think a batter with a .165 average should hit in the lineup, Jorge?" Because frankly, Posada should have been moved down weeks ago. He hasn't hit a homer since April 23. Since then, he is nine for his last 62. He doesn't have a single hit against left-handed pitchers this year. 

Yet despite all the deference Girardi has shown him (he only had him bat eighth once this year), it still wasn't enough. Posada pulls the "disrespected" act last night and had about five different reasons why he didn't play.  I haven't heard so many lame excuses thrown out at once since John Belushi's "Blues Brother" character rattled off all the reasons he stood up Carrie Fisher's character at their wedding! Oh, and Posada had to get his wife -- and his father -- running interference for him. Please. Posada needs a mental health day before Yankees-Red Sox? Are you flipping kidding me?

The thing is, Posada has always gotten away with a bit of an inflated opinion of himself. Even though he wasn't really part of the 1996 championship team (he only played four games that season), he still gets the credit for that ring. As Squawker Jon always sez, Georgie is the Ringo Starr of the Core Four, without the self-deprecating personality. Has there ever been a catcher who has fought with as many pitchers? Roger Clemens. Andy Pettitte. Orlando Hernandez.  Randy Johnson. Mike Mussina. A.J. Burnett, etc. etc. But the Yankees (mostly) put up with Posada pulling the diva act behind the plate, because of his bat. Now he can't hit, and he can't catch anymore, although he still thinks he's aces at both.

And, thanks to Omar Minaya taking Georgie to that Le Cirque lunch in 2007, and the Yanks giving him a fourth year on his contract afterwards, Posada's got 13 million reasons this year to put on a happy face.

Here's what Jorge Posada should have said last night, instead of throwing daggers at Brian Cashman about having the nerve to tell the media that he begged out of the game, and insinuating that Girardi disrespected him:

"It's been a frustrating season, and I let my ego get the best of me. This is unacceptable, and the Yankees have the right to be angry over me begging out of the lineup. I had my wife spin this 'back spasms' story because I panicked over how I would look after Cashman said I asked out of the game. I'm angry with myself for missing the big picture, and putting my ego above the team. I am deeply sorry, and this will never happen again."

My first thought last night, when I heard that Posada had asked out of the game, but before the hissy fit details came out, was that he was going to retire. Come to think of it, maybe Posada ought to think about doing that now, and leave with at least a shred of dignity, before playing out the year griping about how he's being disrespected.

What do you think? Tell us about it!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Astros' Mess Shows Why Mets Shouldn't Trade Carlos Beltran to Yankees

This weekend, the Mets are seeing what could happen after you trade off your stars.

Longtime Astros Lance Berkman and Roy Oswalt, dealt at last year's trading deadline, are now key components of first-place teams, while the Astros have the worst record in the NL and are drawing fewer than 25,000 fans per game.

It will be years before we know if the Astros got enough back to justify trading two longtime faces of the franchise. So far, it looks like they ended up with only one impact young player, Brett Wallace, who was acquired for Anthony Gose, who came to the Astros in the Oswalt deal.

Meanwhile, Berkman is off to an MVP-caliber start with the division rival Cardinals, while Oswalt is part of the "rotation for the ages" in Philadelphia.

Berkman won't keep up his league-leading OPS of 1.131. And Oswalt is currently on the DL. But it's reasonable to expect these players to play key roles in the pennant race while the Astros play out the string before empty seats.

Sure, the Mets are likely to get more for the much younger Jose Reyes than the Astros got for their older stars. And while Reyes' fast start is thankfully causing more people to realize that trading him will set this franchise back for years, it makes sense to trade an older player like Carlos Beltran who is very likely to leave the Mets anyway.

But if the Mets trade Beltran, they'd better get a really good prospect in return. The Post's Mike Vaccaro speculates on whether Beltran could get traded to the Yankees. Vaccaro concludes:

A one-sided trade between the two would be perilous. Is Beltran worth the risk? For the Yankees, absolutely. For the Mets? They might be better off winning than having to face that question.


I agree on the Mets' part. It would be bad enough to see the Yankees get back to the World Series. But to get back with Beltran playing a key role would be intolerable.

But what if Sandy Alderson could land one of the Yankees' top prospects for Beltran? Someone like Jesus Montero, Manny Banuelos or Dellin Betances? I still wouldn't want to see that move, but I'd have to concede that it would probably be worth it for the Mets in the long run.

But I can't imagine Brian Cashman agreeing that a Beltran trade is "absolutely worth the risk" if it involves dealing Montero, who, if traded, would only be part of a Cliff Lee-type package, not for a Beltran rental, or either of the two pitchers, currently considered untouchable.

When the Yankees traded for Berkman last year, they gave up Mark Melancon and Jimmy Paredes. Melancon is now the Astros' fill-in closer with Brandon Lyon on the DL and Paredes is their sixth-ranked prospect, with a three-star ranking out of five, according to Baseball Prospectus.

Doesn't sound like a lot for Berkman, but it's probably along the lines of what the Yankees would want to give the Mets for Beltran.

If I were the Yankees, I wouldn't want to give up a top prospect for Beltran, but from the Mets' point of view, if that's the case, better to hold on to Beltran than to watch him help a rival in the postseason while you are trying to put together a rebuilding plan on the cheap.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Hear Me on the Radio on 4:30 p.m. Today

I will be on Brian Sinkoff's "Sound-Off With Sinkoff" radio show today at 4:30 p.m., squawking about Yankees-Red Sox. If you live in the Albany area, turn your radio to 104.5 FM, or you can listen to me live by going to ESPN 104.5 The Team's website.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

From the Balcony: Remembering Bill Gallo

Squawker Jon and I were very saddened by the passing of sports cartoonist Bill Gallo. Gallo was not just a legend; he was one of the nicest people we have ever had the pleasure of meeting. And with his death, the journalism world -- and newspaper readers -- have suffered a huge loss.

When I was a kid growing up in New Jersey, I read the New York tabloids every day, and particularly enjoyed Gallo's Humor. We used to hang up the caricatures he drew of Yankees and Mets players that ran in the Sunday funnies. And who could ever forget his Thurman Munson tribute?

His creation Basement Bertha was as much as a cartoon fixture to me when I was a kid as Bugs Bunny and Snoopy. And that was just one of the many characters he came up with over the years. Who could forget Yuchie? General Von Steingrabber? And I still want a telekeg!

Gallo was the lead cartoonist for the Daily News' sports page for over 50 years, wrote a weekly column for the paper, and worked at the News since 1941. But there was a gap in his 70 years of working for the paper, when he served his country in World War II. As a Marine. At Iwo Jima. What a life!

So when I went to work for the New York Daily News in 2000, I was thrilled to get to meet Gallo. And he did not disappoint. His book Drawing a Crowd: Bill Gallo's Greatest Sports Moments had come out around that time, and I bought a copy of it to give to my father on his 80th birthday. I was introduced to Gallo, and with a little trepidation, I asked him if he would please autograph it to my father. He not only did so, but he drew a cake and candles on the page as well. After my father died in 2007, I asked for the book back when we divided up my father's things.

Over the years, I would see Gallo, or as I always called him, "Mr. Gallo," in the newsroom, and he was invariably friendly, and willing to share a story or an observation. When I got to read Richard Ben Cramer's book on Joe DiMaggio, I saw how Gallo was friends with Joe DiMaggio for many years, until the end of Joe D's life. This was quite a feat, given how DiMaggio was quick to anger -- and to hold a grudge. So I asked Gallo why the friendship lasted. He said it was two things -- that he never asked DiMaggio for anything, and he never brought up Marilyn Monroe!

Anyhow, the thing is with Gallo was that he was cordial and kind and giving to everybody he met, whether they be blue-collar or bluebloods. That is one of the reasons so many people are sad today at his passing. Even though Gallo was the most famous name at the paper, he never put on airs. You could always swing by his office and chat, no matter where you ranked in the pecking order.

However, I was unable to convince him to let me in at one of his Gallo's Geezers lunches at Gallagher's Steak House -- you had to be a senior citizen to go, and I didn't fit the bill for that! But those who did qualify by age were in for a real treat -- he had celebrities like Tom Brokaw, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Yogi Berra and Ralph Branca talk to his Geezers. Still wish I could have gone!

Gallo's was reknowned for his "From the Balcony" cartoons whenever an iconic sports figure died. The balcony, of course, was in the clouds, in heaven. Jon and I are sure that Bill Gallo is there now, surrounded by the same legends he once drew.

What do you think? Tell us about it!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Did Brian Cashman Insult Derek Jeter or Compliment Him?

Quick note while watching tonight's game. Brian Cashman spoke today about Derek Jeter's importance to the Yankees. When I first heard fans griping about what Cash said, I didn't get at first why they were mad. After all, his comments looked very complimentary -- he said Jeter was "a championship-caliber contributor and an above-average shortstop."

Then Squawker Jon pointed out something else in the interview. Here is the money quote from what the GM said on ESPN 1050 radio today:
"I think he's an above-average shortstop in major league baseball," Cashman said. "He's not the same player he used to be, and how many people are when they start to get older? But I think he's a championship-caliber contributor and an above-average shortstop, and that's more than enough. We have other guys on offense that are charged with leading the way. Derek has always been a table setter, but Derek's offense isn't gonna make or break us. That's gonna come from other guys in the lineup that are expected to do more."
Squawker Jon sent me an email with the last part of that paragraph, asking, "Isn't this pretty much what A-Rod said about Jeter in the infamous article a decade ago?"

Let's take a look. Here's A-Rod's quote, from the infamous 2001 Esquire interview:
"Jeter's been blessed with great talent around him," Alex says. "He's never had to lead. He can just go and play and have fun. And he hits second—that's totally different than third and fourth in a lineup. You go into New York, you wanna stop Bernie and O'Neill. You never say, Don't let Derek beat you. He's never your concern."  
I don't think what Cashman said is that big a deal, but I do agree with Jon that the similarity in the quotes was amusing. However, I don't think the Captain will be quite as amused!

What do you think? Tell us about it!

Why Didn't John Sterling Have a Home Run Call Ready for Francisco Cervelli?

The most shocking thing about Sunday's Yankee win wasn't Derek Jeter hitting two home runs, or even Francsico Cervelli hitting a grand slam. It was the fact that John Sterling did not have a personalized home run call for Cervelli ready to go.

Granted, Cervelli only had one home run in his career prior to Sunday. But geez, Sterling had "Russell has muscle" prepared for Russell Martin in only his second game as a Yankee. And Andruw Jones got the "Andruw Jones makes his bones" treatment for the homer he hit in his very first at-bat in pinstripes. Cervelli has been on the team since 2008. Is it too much to expect Sterling to have *something* in the can for him? I think not, especially when there are more than a few options.

Squawker Jon and I were tossing around some ideas for what Sterling could have done. Here are some possible calls. If John Sterling happens to hear about this, he is free to use any of these ideas:

* Frankie 'Velli and the four-bagger!
* It's a San Francisco Treat!
* Francisco Cervelli turns pitchers to jelly!
* Cervelli hits that ball to New Delhi!
* Turn on your telly and watch Cervelli!
* It's the Frisco Kid!
* What's the buzzelli? It's Francisco Cervelli!
* Frankie Goes to Hollywood!
* Francisco hits the disco!
* What the helli? There goes Cervelli!

Or maybe you have some better ideas for home run calls for Cervelli? What do you think?

So Now That Derek Jeter Had a Good Day, It's Time to Start Bashing A-Rod Again

Since Derek Jeter looked like the old Jeter this weekend for basically the first time since last spring, some of New York's reporters are back to griping about Alex Rodriguez again.

Never mind that Jeter's struggles have been going on from mid-June to the present, while Rodriguez started out the season on a tear, but has been hitting poorly over the last two weeks, since straining his oblique. As Mark Feinsand notes, Rodriguez  hit ".366 with four home runs and 10 RBI in his first 13 games," but although he did hit a grand slam and drive in six runs on April 23, "over his past 14 games, A-Rod is batting .170 (9-for-53) with three RBI and one extra-base hit." The Daily News writer says, "With his RBI groundout on Sunday, he snapped an eight-game skid in which he hadn't driven in a run."

It depends on your perspective whether Rodriguez is suffering a temporary setback, or an age-related decline.

George King of the New York Post writes:

While Rodriguez wasn’t the only non-producer, he hits fourth, makes the most money, has the out-sized personality and is the lightning rod for everything wrong in the Yankees’ universe.

Until Jeter started to warm this past week, his plate woes provided cover for Rodriguez, who batted .290 with five homers and 18 RBIs in April.

Let me get out my trusty calculator. Those stats over the course of six months would equal .290 over the year, with 30 home runs and 108 RBIs. Are those type of numbers something that would really kill the Yankees' season?

Kevin Long and Rodriguez told the media that the hitting coach noticed something awry this weekend with A-Rod's leg kick. But Wallly Matthews figures Rodriguez is doomed, doomed, doomed. The ESPN writer has an overwrought piece about the fact that A-Rod hasn't hit a home run since April 23. 
"...now that the Yankees have "fixed" Derek Jeter -- or more likely, Jeter has fixed himself -- it is time for someone to do the same with Alex Rodriguez.....

At the rate he was hitting homers and driving in runs, a 50-homer, 150-RBI season was not out of the question.

Now, it certainly seems well beyond his reach. In fact, sometimes when he is at the plate it looks as though he will never hit No. 6.
He continues:
Plenty has been said so far this year, but by Alex Rodriguez, very little has been done.

Derek Jeter's struggles caused us all to forget about that for a couple of weeks. But on one big day in Texas, Derek got better.

Now it's Alex Rodriguez' turn to get better, and fast.
Geez, Louise, you would think he was slumping for six months!

I hope Jeter is back, although I would put an asterisk on the second homer, against Arthur Rhodes (as Bill Madden writes, the pitcher has given up 17 homers in 85 innings against the Yanks, and has a 7.52 ERA against the team). If Manny Ramirez was the greatest Yankee-killer of all time, Arthur Rhodes might be the greatest Yankee patsy of all time.

But really, the biggest beneficiary of the focus on Jeter over the last few weeks wasn't A-Rod, but Jorge Posada. A designated hitter who is batting just .152 is pretty terrible. While Posada does have 6 homers (but he hasn't hit one since April 23, the same date as Rodriguez,) any other player batting so poorly for the year wouldn't be the DH. And given that Posada will turn 40 this August, it's not unreasonable to start wondering what it all means.

What do you think? Tell us about it!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Attn: Sandy Alderson - Jose Reyes Leads All Shortstops in OBP

In laying the groundwork for a potential trade of Jose Reyes, Mets GM Sandy Alderson has expressed concern about Reyes' health and on-base percentage. So far, Reyes is healthy, and, after getting on base six times Tuesday night, he now leads all full-time shortstops with a .377 OBP, ahead of Troy Tulowitzki (.373) and Jimmy Rollins (.370). (Angels' infielder Maicer Izturis (.386 OBP) made ten starts at shortstop while Erick Aybar was hurt.)

If Reyes keeps this up, the front office will have to scramble to find new reasons why the Mets will be better off without their star shortstop. Perhaps we'll start hearing things like "Some catalyst - Reyes gets on base six times against the Giants and the Mets still lose."

More likely, we'll start hearing rumors about the haul of prospects the Mets can expect to land for Reyes. But if you follow the links in today's Metsblog item "The Giants have discussed acquiring Jose Reyes," it shows how what the Mets should want for Reyes is unlikely to match up with what other teams are willing to give.

From MLB Trade Rumors' Tim Dierkes:

At the big league level, the Giants have two established starters the Mets could try to acquire. One is Jonathan Sanchez, a solid lefty with a walk problem. He's under team control through 2012; how much value would his '12 season at a salary of $8MM or so be of to the Mets? Perhaps GM Sandy Alderson could flip Sanchez for longer-term players. The Giants also have southpaw Madison Bumgarner, who is more valuable than Belt and controlled through 2016. Like Belt, Bumgarner is way too much for Reyes.

Let's forget about Sanchez, who is 28 and not too long ago was being compared to Oliver Perez as a talented but wild lefty who couldn't put it together. While Sanchez, unlike Perez, has become a viable big-league starter, he's 28, has walked 20 in 33 innings this season, and as Dierkes points out, will make $8M next season and could become a free agent after that.

Brandon Belt is a highly touted young prospect, ranked 17th overall in ESPN's Keith Law's list of MLB's top prospects at the start of the season. Madison Bumgarner pitched a shutout in the World Series last year at age 21.

I really don't want the Mets to trade Reyes, but if they could get both Belt and Bumgarner, it could at least be intriguing. But here again is Dierkes' last line from the above quote:

Like Belt, Bumgarner is way too much for Reyes.

If I were a Giants' fan, I wouldn't want them to trade Bumgarner, either. But someone like Belt would have to be a starting point.

Even if Belt did turn out to be the centerpiece of a Reyes trade, he's a first baseman, and the Mets already have a good young first baseman. Law speculates that Belt could move to left field, but Jason Bay is likely to be there for the next few years.

Oh, and by the way, if the Mets did get Belt and found a way to get him into the lineup, they would still need a shortstop.

Reyes' success so far this season only makes it more likely that trading him will hurt the team not only in the short term, but in the long term as well, because in the current baseball landscape, a young shortstop with Reyes' skills is irreplaceable.

Should the Mets trade Jose Reyes? Tell us what you think.