Tag Archives: Gossage

News on two former Yankees’ pitchers….

Yankee Stadium Frieze

An interesting, and sad, day regarding two former Yankees’ pitchers.

Esteban Loaiza, who was briefly with the Yankees in 2004 (but long enough to lose Game 5 of the ALCS to Boston), was caught with 44 pounds of cocaine or heroin, worth $500K.

According to Fox News,

the two-time All-Star is being held on $200,000 bail. He was booked into the South Bay Detention Center (San Diego) just before 6 p.m. Friday. Loaiza was first stopped for a traffic infraction after leaving an Imperial Beach home. His car is believed to be used in a drug smuggling operation.

Loaiza, a Mexican-born pitcher, won 126 games during his career. He played for eight teams in 14 seasons: Pittsburgh Pirates, Texas Rangers, Toronto Blue Jays, New York Yankees, Washington Nationals, Oakland A’s, Chicago White Sox and Los Angeles Dodgers.

He capped off his career pitching in 10 games for the White Sox and Dodgers in 2008. His had his best season in 2003 when he won 21 games and finished second in American League Cy Young voting while with the White Sox.

He made $43.7 million during his career, Baseball Reference reported.

Loaiza was the husband of singer Jenni Rivera, who died in a Mexico plane crash in 2012.

Loaiza is scheduled to be arraigned Wednesday.

Meanwhile, HOF pitcher Rich “Goose” Gossage is not welcome at the Yankees’ spring training. Gossage would be a guest instructor in prior years, but his general grumpiness about the game today, in which he would rant about one-inning guys like Rivera and Chapman, must have gotten under GM Brian Cashman’s skin, among others.

Cashman had no comment, but Gossage ranted today about Cashman, and nothing he had to say about the GM was very good.

Goose may have a plaque in Monument Park, but there seem to be plenty of bridges that are burned here.

 

Game 39. Rays edge Yanks, 5-4.

Yankee Stadium Frieze

Joe Girardi was attending his daughter’s graduation. Bench coach Rob Thomson filled in as manager, and Thomson made a couple of moves that have Yankees’ fans scratching their heads after a 5-4 Yankees loss to Tampa Bay that dropped their record to 24-15.

Luis Severino gutted out five innings, giving up just one run and leaving with a 2-1 lead. The Yanks got a run in the first when with one out, Ellsbury singled, Holliday doubled and Castro got an RBI groundout. Judge singled Holliday to third and stole second, but the Yanks couldn’t add on; Didi struck out. It would cost them later.

The Rays tied the game in the bottom of the first. In the third, Gardner got a bunt single and went to second on an error by Evan Longoria. It’s about the only thing Longoria did wrong all night. He had four hits against the Yankees, including the GW RBI. Ellsbury doubled Gardner home.

Jonathan Holder pitched a scoreless sixth and after that, the Yankees’ bullpen, which has been so great this year so far, let the game get away.

Thomson brought in Warren to pitch the seventh. I hate when managers go “by the book” or “by the formula.” If a pitcher is doing well, leave him in. Change for changes sake, I hate. Seventh inning guy, eighth inning guy, etc. Phooey. Too many cooks (or pitchers) spoil the soup (or game). Holder gave up a double in the sixth, but no runs and had two strikeouts. Why not leave him in? If a guy is doing well, and is smoking, use your own eyes and gut and go with the hot hand. Leave him in.

That over managing, seventh-inning guy, eighth-inning guy, etc., is a change to the game I grew up with that I do not like. A change for the worse. I’m old school, remembering the days when a Gossage or Lyle would come in in the seventh and really close a game out, going 2 1/3 scoreless or so. People older than me may remember Joe Page…

I miss those days.

The move to Warren, who has been great and probably was due for a clunker, backfired. Warren gave up 3 runs in the seventh. Rays 4-2. The key blow was a double that 3B Ronald Torreyes couldn’t come up with, shortly after it appeared Warren Shreve was squeezed on a pitch by the home plate umpire.

In the top of the eighth, Matt Holliday hit a two-run HR (8) to tie it, 4-4.

But Tyler Clippard gave up a run and the game in the bottom of the eighth.

In the bottom of the ninth, with two out, Thomson let Austin Romine hit for himself instead of pinch-hitting Gary Sanchez for him. This is a move, or non-move if you will, that has Yankees’ fans scratching their heads. Even the Yankees’ broadcasters on WPIX, Ken Singleton and John Flaherty, were a bit surprised by the non-move. Sanchez has a far greater chance of tying the game up with a HR than Romine did or does, and you are just PH-ing catcher for catcher. Why Sanchez wasn’t up there, who knows. Romine tapped back to the pitcher, game over. Not only that, Romine (0 for 4) has been slumping lately (0 hits in at least his last 16 at bats) and is down to .247.

So that’s that.

Ellsbury 2 for 4, RBI; Holliday 2 hits, HR, 2 RBI. Castro 2 hits, RBI (.352).

Chris Carter was 0 for 3 with two strikeouts. Tyler Austin’s start of his rehab was rained out.

Severino 5 IP, 1 R, 5 H, 3 W, 7 K. 3.64
Holder (H, 3) 1 IP, 0 R, 1 H, 0 W, 2 K. 2.04
Warren (BS, 2) 2/3 IP, 3 R, 3 H, 0 W, 1 K. 2.31
Shreve 1/3 IP, 0 R, 1 H, 0 W, 0 K. 0.00
Clippard (L, 0-2, 1.53) 1 IP, 1 R, 1 H, 2 W, 3 K.

 

Gossage, like Levine, needs to zip it.

Yankee Stadium Frieze

Besides Randy Levine needing to zip it more often, another person who needs to zip it is Rich “Goose” Gossage, who showed up in camp with his annual rant against relief pitchers, and particularly the great and classy Mariano Rivera.

Goose was great. His plaque is in Monument Park, deservedly so. In his prime, 1978-1983 as a Yankee, he averaged 7-5, 2.10, and 25 saves/yr. Remember that he missed 1/2 of 1979 due to the Cliff Johnson fight and 1/3 of 1981 due to the players’ strike. He is in the HOF, rightfully so, with a record of 124-107, 310 saves, 3.01 ERA and ERA+ of 126. (Goose also spent part of 1989 with the Yanks, at the end of his career). In that 1978-1983 time frame, he averaged 1 2/3 innings per appearance.

Goose spent one year starting for the White Sox in 1976.

Now Goose did pitch 2 2/3 innings in that famous Bucky Dent playoff game vs. Boston in 1978.

In what seems to be his annual rant against baseball today, he says (with expletives) not to compare him, Sutter, Fingers, etc. to pitchers like Rivera, Chapman, etc. because the latter day pitchers are one-inning guys. Fair enough.

But the way Goose disparages Rivera is uncalled for. Mariano’s #42 is retired by the Yankees, rightfully so, and Mo should be joining Goose in the HOF in 2019. He should get in almost unanimously, if not unanimously (there is always one jerk out there) on the very first ballot. What’s Goose going to do, boycott the ceremony?

Taking away Mo’s rookie season of 1995, when he started 10 games, from 1996 to the end of his career, Mariano pitched in 950 games, 1216 2/3 IP, averaging almost 1 1/3 innings per appearance—not too far off of Goose’s 1978-1983 average of 1 2/3. Rivera, of course, finished his career 82-60, a record 652 saves, 2.21 ERA and ERA+ a record 205.

And Mo did pitch three innings in Game 7 of the 2003 ALCS.

The game changed. Goose should not hold Mo responsible for that or disparage Mo. Mo did his job, as the job requirements demanded at that time, as good or better than anyone else, just as Goose did his job, as the requirements demanded at the time, as good or better than anyone else.

The game has changed. Pitchers don’t throw complete games anymore. You don’t see starters throwing 300 innings in a season anymore. But you don’t hear Sandy Koufax or Bob Gibson bitching about today’s great starters, do you?

In the same way, relief pitching has changed. I’m old school, and can agree with and sympathize with Gossage’s opinion.

But at the same time, Goose comes across as a bitter, classless, crotchety old man.

It’s to the classy Rivera’s credit that he doesn’t respond in kind. Mo’s not like that.

Enough already. Goose should just praise Mo for the great reliever he was, add that there were two different kinds of eras, and say I was great in mine, Mo was great in his, and be done with it.

Because Goose’s bitching is getting rather tiresome.

Between Goose’s rant and Randy Levine’s gloating over the Dellin Betances’ arbitration case, I was a little ashamed this week—a week I usually can’t wait for, what with spring training starting.

Hey guys, zip it, and let’s concentrate on baseball. Don’t disparage the game and the players but respect and honor good players.

Because your comments this week were very sad to hear, and I’m sure I am not the only Yankees fan saddened, disheartened, and quite frankly, a bit pissed at what I saw and heard.

Game 74. O’s blank Yanks 8-0, beat Tanaka.

It was nice to see some people from both my Lehigh Valley Yankees Fan Club (with whom I went up to the Stadium for Old-Timer’s day via a bus trip) and also some members of Pinstripe Mania yesterday once I got to the Stadium.

It was also nice to see some great Old-Timer’s Day festivities and see Goose Gossage get a plaque for Monument Park.

It wasn’t nice to see what happened in the actual game, for the Yanks got blanked, 8-0, and Tanaka got the loss.

Tanaka didn’t pitch badly. In 15 starts this season, every single start has been a quality start.

He gave up two hits to lead off the game, but got out of it with a flyball and two strikeouts.

In the bottom of the first, Gardner tripled. At least we thought it was a triple to lead off the bottom of the first. Instead, upon review, it was determined that in sliding into third, Gardner came off the bag and was then out when he was tagged. Right there and then it probably wasn’t going to be the Yankees day, for he had beaten the throw.

Tanaka gave up a HR in the second, but settled in. After six innings, it was just 1-0 Orioles.

But the Yanks offense was doing nothing.

In the seventh, Tanaka gave up two runs. He went 7 innings, 3 R, 6 H, 1 walk and 6 K. Even with the loss, that puts him at 11-2, and his ERA is 2.11.

But the Yanks got four hits all game, two by Ichiro. No support.

Yangervis Solarte is 0 for 27 since June 8th. Hopefully he snaps out of it soon. Maybe he has to be sent down soon. Before you balk at that, remember that in 1951, the great Mickey Mantle, in his rookie season, had to be sent down for a while to get straightened out. But hopefully Solarte does get straightened out soon.

The game really got out of hand in the eighth, when Adam Warren came in and had nothing. Two Yankees errors didn’t help, even though the O’s Steve Pearce probably got away with baserunner interference.

Warren 1 IP, 4 R, 4 H, 1 walk, 0 K. 2.88.

David Huff pitched the 9th and gave up a HR. 1 IP, 1 R, 2 H, 1 walk and 1 K. 5.76.

With the loss, the Yanks drop to 39-35 and into a tie for 2nd in the AL East with Baltimore. They are 1 1/2 back of Toronto and now go to Toronto for a three-game set. The Yanks and O’s are tied for the final WC spot, one pct. point above Seattle.

It appears the Yanks will be needing a starting pitcher and a bat soon. The trade deadline is five weeks away. Stay tuned.

Just to clarify one thing from the Old-Timer’s Day festivities: John Sterling, in announcing Joe Torre, stated that Torre was the second manager to win three consecutive World Series. He was wrong. Joe McCarthy was the first (1936-1939), Casey Stengel the second (1949-1953) and Joe Torre was the third (1998-2000). As a Yankees broadcaster, Sterling should have known that (not to be a curmudgeon about it, but…). I don’t know why everyone forgets about “Marse Joe” ‘s accomplishment.

Now the A’s won three straight WS from 1972-1974, but with two different managers. Dick Williams was there in ’72 & ’73, but it was Alvin Dark who skippered them in 1974.

Jesse Barfield homered off of David Cone in the Old-Timer’s game.

Game 73. O’s snap Yanks 4-game win streak, 6-1.

There’s been talk that Vidal Nuno is pitching to keep his spot in the rotation. He didn’t do anything to help himself on Saturday.

The Yanks offense didn’t do anything to help Nuno either, as the Yanks lost 6-1. The loss snapped the Yanks four-game winning streak.

Nuno gave up 3 HR in falling to 1-4, 5.88. He went 6 1/3, 5 R, 4 ER, 6 H (3 of which were HR) 2 walks and 4 K.

Jose Ramirez shows promise, but is raw. Hopefully he develops. He did give up a run (HR) in his 2 2/3 IP, but also struck out 4.

2 2/3 IP, 1 R, 3 H, 1 walk, 1 HBP and 4 K. 5.63.

The Yanks only run came on a HR by Teixeira (12, 353 career).

Before the game, Tino Martinez was honored with a plaque in Monument Park. The Yanks will honor Goose Gossage with a plaque tomorrow (Sunday) on Old-Timers’ Day.

As for Nuno, we’ll have to wait and see. Although he hasn’t done well, the Yanks don’t exactly have a ready replacement for what really is the #8 starter (3 of what were supposed to be in the rotation are on the DL—-CC, Pineda and Nova).

You wonder if a trade is brewing, who would go and who may come to replace Nuno in the rotation.

Jeter got one hit. 3386.

Because I’ll be heading up to the Stadium early tomorrow morning for the game, there will be no minor league report on the games of today.

Game 105. Posada to have Season-ending surgery. Washburn deal hitting snag? Moose, Robertson, Farnsy rocked in 13-4 loss.

One of These Nights
It was one of those nights…
one of those lost and lonely nights.

Recap: Mike Mussina was rocked, giving up 2 HR and 6 runs in 5 IP as the Yanks were rocked 13-4 by the Orioles. Old nemesis Kevin Millar started the rout with a 3-run HR. David Robertson gave up a grand slam to Adam Jones. It was the first HR Robertson gave up in his professional career—after 148+ innings of pitching minor league and major league ball. Farnsworth also gave up an HR. The Yanks runs came on Xadier Nady’s first Yankee hit, a solo HR, and Johnny Damon’s 3-run blast, which was his first HR since May 27th. Meanwhile, the season is over for Hip-Hip, as Posada decides to get the season-ending surgery on his shoulder, and in the “Daily News 5th”, writer Mark Feinsand reported that the Washburn deal may be hitting a snag. Continue reading

Pregame thoughts. Happy Birthday Alex, and Congratulations to the Goose!

A-Rod turns 33 today. Let’s hope he celebrates with a dinger or two tonight. (after YFCR, which will be sort of a “pre-game show”).

Ty is on vacation and taking some well-deserved time off. No YFCR tonight. Tune in next week.

Congratulations to the Goose, whose HOF induction is today.

Here is a great article by Joel Sherman, on the regression of now-traded Jose Tabata and what scouts and execs thought of the Nady/Marte deal (heavily in favor of the Yanks).

Regarding Brett Gardner, Girardi says he needs to play every day. Hopefully it was a learning experience of what it’ll take for him to stick, even as just a backup OF/Def. replacement/PR. Maybe he can be our “Dave Roberts.”

Very interesting….Pete Abraham reports that the Kansas City Star reports the Yankees have interest in RHP Brian Bannister. Melky Cabrera would go to the Royals. Interesting deal.

Bannister is 27. 7-9, 5.40. ERA+ 80. Not good. But he is considerably cheaper than Washburn. 12-9, 3.87 last year for a poor team. ERA+ 121 last year. 21-19, 4.50 in his career. Hmm…younger, cheaper, more upside. Not a strikeout pitcher, but … and who plays CF? Despite his low BA and too many K’s, do the Yanks have faith that Gardner could turn it around? Pitching and defense, good. But can Brett start hitting enough to justify this possible deal, or will the deal be expanded to bring say, David DeJesus (a Brooklyn lad) to the Bronx? Yes, DeJesus plays LF, but can play CF (49 in LF, 38 CF and 12 RF this year). .301-10-54, OPS+ 116, 9 steals (but 7 CS). I’d much rather go for him (28, lefty hitter, .285 career) than Joey Gathright, .251, 21 SB, but only THREE extra base hits out of his 62 this year, and an OPS+ of 53.

The Post reports that Yanks are still aggressively after Washburn and that the Steinbrenner family has given Cashman the OK to add salary to get Washburn. In return, the M’s have to take Igawa, who is no longer on the Yankees’ 40 man roster. Scouting reports on Washburn (scheduled to start against Toronto today) haven’t been good, and I’ve given my reasons why I don’t want him (doesn’t anyone from the media check the guy’s record, or do they just look at the name?).  The Post also reports that the PIrates had “mixed medical issues” on Coke and Kontos. One NL scout says that “That was robbery,” talking about the deal. “The Yanks killed them.” Nady makes $3.35 m this year and is eligible for arbitration (expect him to win) after the season. He can be a F.A. after 2009. Marte makes $2 M and there is a $6M option for 2009, which I’d expect the Yanks to pick up.

Sherman, in another article, states that the Yanks are planning to make a strong run at CC, and to build a long-term rotation around him and Joba. In 2009, they could have Moose and Andy back, team them with Joba and CC along with Wang. Kennedy and  Hughes could get more AAA experience and be on the ready in case of injury, breakdown, etc. Could you imagine SWB in 2009 having a rotation of Kennedy, Hughes, Horne, Aceves and say, Jason Jones or Chase Wright? Killer. Such depth made this Nady/Marte deal possible.

Overall, some superb stuff in the Post today from Sherman and George King. I don’t have time to check out all papers/blogs, etc., but I’m glad I caught that.

The ERA+ keeps going up. The Yanks are 58-45, 1 game better than the Pythagorean, OPS+ 104, ERA+ 105. Team ERA under 4.00 at 3.92. How significant is this ERA+ of 105?

2003 (last WS) ERA+ 109
2004 (we know what happened) ERA +96
2005 it was 93
2006    102
2007    99

Let’s go back to the WS Title run, starting at 1996:

1996    108
1997    117
1998    116
1999    114
2000    101 (Yanks won WS with just an 87-74 record)
2001    111
2002    114    

Pitching, pitching, pitching. More stuff when lineups posted. Ponson (3-11, 6.61 against Boston for his career, 2-4, 7.16 at Fenway Park) vs. Lester. It doesn’t look good for a “fine nine”, but we’ll see. Expect Nady in left, Sexson at first.   

Girardi drawing raves

He hasn’t managed a game for the Yankees, but so far Joe Girardi is drawing raves. I’ve been on record for wanting the Yanks to switch off of Joe Torre for a few years now, believing that Torre had gotten stale–something Joel Sherman remarks about in his column today. Yankee fan Josh “The Yankee Truth” Imboden, a frequent guest commentator on Yankee Fan Club Radio (Sundays at 6 p.m., link at right) says in order to continue winning, you must change. This change should have been done a while ago. It seems as if Torre had lost a veteran team, and Torre didn’t want to play youngsters whom he didn’t trust. Now even the Torre apologists and ass-kissers of the past few years seem to be seeing the light. Sherman is one of them in his column today. ESPN Radio today remarked about the Yankees conditioning being far better this spring. The more people see the positive change–things done differently, and better–in this camp than in the previous several, the more of an indictment it is to Torre.

Last week, I wrote a column entitled “No More Country Club.” Feel free to backtrack and check it out. I don’t know if I was the first to use that terminology, but others are picking it up. Surely players are showing up in shape and doing far more conditioning and running than in previous years. Part of it is because there is a new manager, one known for his own conditioning. Part also, is that players betrayed Torre’s easy-going nature by taking advantage of the trust Torre put in them. Ronald Reagan, when talking about negotiating and foreign policy, said “Trust but verify.” Not to get political or anything, but this is true in all aspects of life, even major league managing. It seems like the last few years saw hitting, pitching and fielding, but not other forms of conditioning. (Once again, damn you Marty Miller.) What did we see? Out-of-shape athletes getting hurt late in spring training or early in the season. The Yanks getting off to slow starts. As I mentioned before, Mike Mussina’s quote of “we made the playoffs because we finally got into shape in June” is a damning one. One that is inexcusable. Now Mussina is on board. He states that he didn’t want change either, but now admits “maybe we needed something different.” What was needed was someone to “scare” them; to take the feeling of “comfortableness” away that long-term, multi-year deals create; someone to make you “earn” something. Someone like Girardi.

Much has been made of the University of Pennsylvania report which calls Jeter the worst defensive SS in baseball. I wouldn’t go that far. It is true that his range is questionable. This (as a different Sherman column points out) is revealed not just in this Penn study but in other ones as well. There is a Range graph on Dave Pinto’s Baseball Musings blog which shows that Derek isn’t making the number of outs expected of him. Jeter can dismiss the reports all he wants (and so can Gene Michael, the Yanks scout, ex-mgr. and GM and former SS in his own right) but read between the lines. What has Jeter done this offseason that has A-Rod so excited that he thinks Jeter is on his way to an MVP-type year? Derek has worked on his legs, his first step, lateral quickness and agility. Wonder why? It doesn’t take a genius to put one and one together. As Sherman writes, “(Jeter) set the clock back five years.” Hopefully we see a marked difference defensively from the Captain this season.

There is a sad article about Don Mattingly’s marital troubles, and the problems he faces. It is in today’s Daily News. The article can be found here:

http://www.nydailynews.com/sports/baseball/yankees/2008/02/24/2008-02-24_instead_of_leading_yanks_to_glory_don_ma.html  

The article mentions Kim Mattingly’s problems with alcohol and how that may have influenced Donnie Baseball’s decision to retire as much as his bad back did. Sometimes strange things happen to change history’s course. We don’t know what the Yanks would have done with Donnie at 1B instead of Tino from 1996-2000. We do know that Donnie wasn’t able to give the 25 HR and 110 RBI anymore that Tino provided. When the Mattinglys were married, they were both teenagers. Alcoholism is a terrible disease—to those afflicted by it, and to those whose lives are hurt by the alcoholics. Here is hoping Kim gets help and both are able to sort out their lives. Continue reading

The “Goose” is as outspoken as ever

11 a.m. In reading some quotes by the Goose in the N.Y. Post today, it came across that Rich “Goose” Gossage is as outspoken as ever. Hmmm….I wonder if you can get Goose and Schilling in the same room….

At his conference yesterday, Gossage was asked who would close and who would set up between he and Mo. Goose replied that he wouldn’t mind being the set-up man and having the tougher job. I’m sure it’s no disrespect to Mo, but the thing to remember (and the best stat of the week on Gossage?) is that 52 of Gossage’s 310 saves were of seven outs or more. Do you remember how dominating the Rivera/Wetteland setup/closer package was in 1996? Now imagine that package all rolled up in one man—Gossage. For other indications of how different Gossage’s time was compared to today’s, I’ll offer three instances. 1) Gossage going the last 2 2/3 in the 163rd game (Bucky Dent game) in 1978. 2) Sparky Lyle coming into the game in the 4th inning, Game 4 of the 1977 ALCS. 3) ….and going back a ways to 1949, Joe Page entering game 153 in the THIRD inning in a game the Yanks needed to win to force a winner-take-all final Game 154 vs. the Red Sox.

Goose also mentioned that he and Billy Martin didn’t get along. That seemed to be Billy’s M.O., that he didn’t like players that he felt were “foisted” on him. Reggie in 1977, Goose in 1978. Goose says that he didn’t take off in 1978 until Lemon took over. When Billy resigned, Goose was 5-9, 14 saves and 2.21. Under Lemon, Goose went 5-2 with 13 saves and lowered his ERA to 2.01. His best years as a Yankee came under Dick Howser in 1980 (until the Brett Game 3 ALCS HR) and the Michael/Lemon combination of the strike-shortened 1981 season. Under Billy in 1983, Goose was 13-5, 2.27 with 22 saves (a career high in wins), but remember that a lot of wins for a closer often means that they gave up the lead, the other team tied the game and his teammates went on to win. That’s not a knock. In Gossage’s case, sometimes he came in with a one-run lead, 1st and 3rd, no out. He wouldn’t start the inning, but would come into the jam. (In typical Goose style he said, “I got out of jams God couldn’t get out of”) The first hitter might hit a SF (tying run scores) or a DP (tying run scores) then Goose would get out of the inning with the tie, and his team would go on to win. Thus Goose got the win and not the save.

Goose also admitted to growing his famed “Fu Manchu” in order to P.O. Steinbrenner. I had a ‘stache for many years, but for different reasons (but if it P.O. George, that’s ok). I’ll have to check with Yankee Fan Club Radio‘s Uncle Joe Colarusso to see if he grew his ‘stache for the reasons Goose gave.

In the post I had where I listed a ton of bullpen options, I forgot one. 30-year-old righty Dan Giese, who was 0-2, 4.82 for the Giants in 2007 (9 1/3 IP) is another bullpen option. He was 3-1, 2.82 in AAA.

The Post also reported that the Yanks may have interest in Jason Lane in order to move him to 1B. He’s only played four MLB games at first but apparently the Yanks feel that the 31 year old OF could make the adjustment. He only hit .175-8-27 in 171 AB for SD and Houston last year. In 2006 he hit 15 HR but only hit .201. He did help the Astros make the 2005 World Series by hitting 26 HR and driving in 78 runs that year, and hitting 2 HR vs. the Cards in that year’s NLCS. Still, he is just a .241 lifetime hitter.

If the Yanks aren’t comfortable with the three-headed-monster of Betemit, Shelley Duncan and Giambi, why not look into Nick Johnson? The Nats will have a problem finding playing time for both Dmitri Young and Johnson. The Yanks could keep Shelley Duncan to fill in at 1b against those tough lefties (and also to rest Johnson, who missed all of 2007 while recovering from a broken leg suffered at the end of the 2006 season). I asked Dave Pinto of Baseball Musings (link at right) how Johnson’s leg was coming around, and he replied that he had heard that Johnson was running the bases and seemed to be 100%. Betemit could be available to the Nats in that instance, staying in his utility man role (behind Young and Ryan Zimmerman). The Yanks could also move some of that glut of bullpen guys I mentioned in the previous blog. Before his injury (and Johnson, sadly, has been injury-prone), Johnson showed great gap power, more a doubles guy (probably 40) than a HR guy (20), but a guy with a great eye (110 walks in 2006) and a good glove. His defense at 1B is far better than Betemit’s, Duncan’s and Giambi’s, and is almost Mientkiewicz-like. His last two OPS+ marks were superb. 137 and 149. God willing he stay healthy, but he can give .270-20-80 with 90 walks and a good glove. He is still just 29 years old, and his contract ($5.5 million in 2007) is cheap.

For 2008, the Yanks could go with this monster lineup: Damon (LF) Jeter, Abreu, Alex, Matsui (DH), Posada, Cano, Nick Johnson and Melky. They could mix and match Giambi and Shelley Duncan where needed. Granted Betemit could be traded to the Nats in the deal to get Johnson, but a backup infielder could be found between Nick Green or Alberto (the D.A.) Gonzalez. As for that backup infielder, how many games do you think he’ll play in? You hope that A-Rod, Jeter and Cano give you at least 155 games each. God forbid they get hurt, but with that trio entrenced at third, short and second, Betemit (and Mitch Hilligoss?) could be expendable, along with a pitcher on that bullpen cattle-call list.

The deal sounds reasonable to me, but I wonder if the Yanks would do it. After all, 2009 will see a new Stadium, and the Yanks could try for a big splash in Teixeira, who becomes a free agent after 2008. So the question is, do you look for now in Johnson (who it appears still has decent years ahead of him if healthy?) who is reasonably priced or wait a year for a player (Teixeira) who is a year and a half younger, who you may not get and would cost you a fortune?

Do the Yanks have enough money to go after both Teixeira and Santana after 2008? Probably not. Teixeira is enticing. VERY enticing.

But maybe the Yanks should save their money, get Johnson now, and hope they get Santana later.

It works for me. How about you?

Update 9:40 p.m. According to Pete Abraham: The Yanks signed Lane to a minor league deal. To me, it appears that they are prepared to play 1B roulette for 2008 and a) either see how Juan Miranda develops and/or b) make a push for Teixeira after 2008.

Abraham also reports that Josh Phelps signed a minor league deal with the Cardinals.

Gossage to enter Hall as a Yankee

12:50 p.m Goose will go into the HOF as a Yankee. I saw a lot of people were doing searches on what cap he would have on. There was a nice touch at the press conference as 1978 teammate and Hall of Famer Reggie Jackson welcomed his ex-teammate into the Hall. The only other surviving member going in this year, Dick Williams, will be going in with an A’s cap—the team he led to World Series titles in 1972 and 1973.

It looks like “Everyday Eddie” Guardado could be going to Texas. After elbow surgery in September of 2006, Eddie probably needs a new nickname. He pitched in 15 games for the Reds last year and had no decisions or saves to go with a 7.24 ERA. At 37, he is a risk. You don’t know how his comeback will turn out. He is 41-55, 4.32 (ERA+ 108) with 183 saves for his career. Hey, if you are lefty and can still lift your arm, some team will sign you.

From Dave Pinto’s Baseball Musings: Miguel Cairo has signed with the Mariners. Miggy hit .253-0-15 with 10 steals (OPS + 66) for the Yanks and Cards last year. For his career, he is at .267 with an OPS + of 75. As we know, he has no power—only 27 HR. He does have an excellent SB success ratio of 78%. It’s been the norm to blast Miggy in the past few years, and I don’t know why. Miggy isn’t an all-star, but if he was, he wouldn’t be a role player off the bench, would he? He is who he is…a role player off the bench who can play different positions. He does the little things. You hope he hits .260 or so. He’ll steal a base, and lay down a bunt. His defense will be decent and not kill you. For the people who have criticized Cairo, may I point out who was on the bench in recent Yankee championships? Check the bench of the great 1961 Yankees team. Now throw out Johnny Blanchard. Hector Lopez hit .222. Billy Gardner hit .212 in 99 at bats. Joe DeMaestri was 6 for 41. Andy Fox hit .196 for the 1996 Yankees. From 1999 to 2001, Clay Bellinger hit .200, .207 and .160. Fred Stanley hit .219 for the 1978 Yankees. I think the critics should get off of Miggy’s back.

Ex-Red Sox owner Buddy LeRoux has died at 77.

Some blogs are reporting a Brian Roberts to the Cubs deal. Pinto’s blog has a reference to Andy MacPhail saying it’s not a correct rumor.

Pete Abraham’s blog lists the Yanks top 10 prospects as listed by Baseball America. You can go there for the whole list. Here are some observations.

#2 is 21 year old Austin Jackson, who hit .304-13-59 with 33 steals, mostly at A ball. A bit of a surprise in that he passed # 3 Jose Tabata, who hit .307-5-54 with 15 steals at A ball. The 19-year-old Tabata had surgery on the hamate bone in his hand, and that limited him to only 103 games. If you are wondering, Joba is # 1 and Ian Kennedy # 4. Hughes pitched too many major league innings to qualify for the list.

# 6 is Jesus Montero, who is only 18. Montero got 107 at bats in the Gulf Coast Rookie League last year, and went .280-3-19.

Check those ages. Then consider that Kennedy is 23, Joba 22 and Hughes just 21. Yankee fans hope the future is quite bright. Keep in mind, though, that Eric Duncan was atop the list a few years ago and now he isn’t in the Top 10 and I don’t think he’ll ever make it. In fact, Eric Duncan was left unprotected in the Rule 5 draft, and no team picked him up.

Finally, Hank Steinbrenner opens his mouth again. Hal is quiet and never heard from. As for Hank, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. Now he states that while the Santana deal is still on, that the extension wouldn’t be for more than five years if the Yanks do get Santana. Hank, zip it.