Tag Archives: Piazza

HOF, a minor move, free agency, and a passing.

A minor move the Yanks made before we get to more major things. They got Kirby Yates, who was DFA’d by Cleveland, for cash considerations.

In 2014, Yates’ rookie year, he went 0-2, 3.75 for Tampa Bay. Last year, he was downright awful. 1-0, 7.97 for Tampa Bay, and he gave up 10 HR in 20 1/3 IP.

For his career, 1-2, 5.27 in 57 games. An extreme fly ball pitcher, 30%+ of his balls were fly balls last year, and you can see the HR ratio. Not good. 63K in 56 1/3. A flyer. The Yanks gave up no players for him and I am sure the cash considerations are minimal. Cleveland purchased him off the Rays in November, and the Yanks purchased him off of Cleveland now.

Vern Rapp, who managed the Cardinals in 1977 and part of 1978, died on New Year’s Eve at the age of 87. He went 83-79 for the 1977 Cards, and was fired after starting 1978 6-11.

Denard Span signed with the Giants.

The HOF voting was announced on Wednesday, and Ken Griffey, Jr. and Mike Piazza werer elected.

Griffey broke the record for highest percentage. Only three voters (Moe, Larry and Curly? Were these the three idiots who voted for Mike Sweeney?) didn’t vote for Griffey. Why, who knows. Egotistical assholes? Perhaps. Griffey, while young and in his prime, was as close to Willie Mays as you would want. Power (630 HR), Speed (he didn’t steal often, but he had speed), Defense and throwing (10 GG), hit for average, .284. Not .300, but….               a 13x All-Star. 1997 MVP (Tino finished 2nd).    The only thing he didn’t get was a ring.

I saw one of his last HR’s at the Stadium. I think it was #601.

He was a joy to watch, but you hated it when he beat your team. Seattle, Cincy and the Chisox. OPS+ of 136.

4x HR champ. 56 in 1997 and 1998. Topped 140 RBI in three consecutive seasons, 1996-1998.

JAWS ranks him as the 5th best CF of all-time. Behind Mays, Cobb, Speaker and Mantle, and ahead of Dimaggio and Snider. Do you who rounds out the top 10? Beltran, Lofton and Andruw Jones. (Ashburn is 11th).

Piazza’s defense wasn’t that great, but a catcher with a .308 BA and 427 HR made up for it. OPS+ 142, even higher than Griffey’s, and this was a catcher. Higher OPS+ than Griffey, and higher BA.

I hope the rumors that kept him out until now are not true. Steroids. Rumors, but not confirmed. I’d hate for those rumors to be confirmed years down the road. What then, remove him?

He and Bill Dickey, another HOF catcher, hit .362 in a season.

The 1993 ROY, Piazza finished top 10 for MVP 7X, including back-to-back runnerup finishes in 1996 and 1997 with the Dodgers.

While Griffey is going in as the first Mariner in their history, Piazza is going in as the second Met (Tom Seaver).

Close but no cigar goes to Jeff Bagwell and Tim Raines.

Significant improvement for Mike Mussina & Curt Schilling.

Even for Bonds and Clemens.

Next year, Jorge Posada is on the ballot. I’d expect a nice vote, maybe 25% but nowhere near the 75% to get in.

Vlad Guerrero comes on. I believe he will make it but on the first year may get only 63% or so.

Ivan Rodriguez and Manny Ramirez, while they certainly have the stats and credentials, are linked to steroids and I don’t believe they will get in. While Pudge (Rodriguez) wasn’t convicted, Manny as suspended twice.

Game 113. Yanks snap 5-game losing streak with a 8-6 win.

cropped-the-stadium-facade.jpg

The Yanks snapped a five-game losing streak by defeating Cleveland in Cleveland last night 8-6. The win kept the Yanks 1/2 game back of Toronto, who won their 11th straight.

Before the game, Greg Bird was called up from AAA. He made his MLB debut, spelling Teix at 1B. Bird went 0 for 5 with three lineouts and two strikeouts. Nick Goody was sent down.

Brian McCann hit a 3-run HR in the first to get the Yanks rolling. McCann’s 20th HR put him in select company. Only he, Yogi Berra and Mike Piazza among catchers have hit 20 or more in 8 straight seasons.

Stephen Drew homered in the second (15) to make it 4-0. He is still under the Mendoza line, but we’ll take those 15 HR.

Nathan Eovaldi was, well, Eovaldi. He improved to 12-2 but he once again didn’t give length of outing. He gave up two in the third but the Yanks bounced back with two in the fourth on RBI doubles by Drew and Gardner.

Gardner singled in a run in the sixth to make it 7-2.  Cleveland knocked Eovaldi out in the bottom of the sixth when they cut it to 7-4 and cut it even closer with a run in the seventh off a Dellin Betances WP.

Gardner singled in another run in the eighth to make it 8-5. Andrew Miller gave up a run in the bottom of the ninth before closing it out.

The Yanks now head to Toronto for a big three game series. Hopefully they return the favor and sweep the Blue Jays (after 11 in a row, Toronto is due to lose some). A sweep puts the Yanks up by 2 1/2. Getting swept drops the Yanks 3 1/2 back. Big series.

Ellsbury got two hits, hopefully that means he is snapping out of it. Gardner was 3 for 4 with 3 RBI. Drew was 2 for 3, drove in 2 and scored 4.

Eovaldi (W, 12-2, 4.26) 5 1/3 IP, 4 R, 7 H, 3 walks and 4 K.
Warren 2/3 IP, 0 R, 0 H, 0 walks and 0 K, 3.32.
Wilson 2/3 IP, 1 R, 2 H, 0 walks and 0 K. 2.55
Betances 1 1/3 IP, 0 R, 1 H, 1 walk and 3 K. 1.21.
Miller (25th save) 1 IP, 1 R, 2 hits, 0 walks and 2 K. 2.25.

Game 84. Yanks sloppy in nightcap, lose 9-5.

The Yanks hit 3 HR in the nightcap of the day/night DH, but made 4 errors as they lost 9-5.

Mark Teixeira hit a three-run HR in the first, #14, to put the Yanks up 3-0.

Hughes gave up a run in the third, then the wheels fell off starting in the fifth.

RF Darnell McDonald was charged with an error on a ball that Curtis Granderson should have had easily. McDonald, just picked up from Boston a few days ago, roamed way too far into Granderson’s territory and interfered with a ball Granderson should have caught easily but dropped. Rule #1—the CF takes EVERYTHING he should cover. No way McDonald should have roamed that far. It was an easy play for Curtis.

Teix DH’d in this game, Nix at 3B, A-Rod out (he PH later). Swisher went from 1B to RF and back to 1B again! Chavez went from 1B to 3B.

In the sixth, an error by Jeter was key. Hughes didn’t pitch that badly. He was betrayed by his defense, but also, Hughes sometimes got two strikes on hitters and didn’t put them away.

Hughes (9-7, 4.33) 5 1/3, 5 R, 3 ER, 10 H, 1 walk and 3 K.

Andruw Jones hit #10, his third HR of the day (he had two in the opener) to make it 5-4 after 6 1/2. Career HR #430 enabled Jones to pass Jason Giambi on the all-time list (dependent on what Giambi did today. Giambi entered the day at 429). Earlier in the day, Jones passed Mike Piazza.

Now I question Girardi. I don’t understand this move.

Logan went 2/3, 1 R, 1 H, 2 walks, 1 K. ERA to 3.77.

It is 5-4. Logan gives up a leadoff double. Girardi makes a move. But who does he bring in?

Cory Wade.

WHY?

Wade was added to the team per DH rules to be the 26th man for the DH. Fine. BUT YOU JUST SENT THE GUY DOWN BECAUSE OVER A 3-WEEK SPAN OR SO, HIS ERA WAS 15.00!

Want to use him, fine. Do so if one of the DH games is a blowout in order to save the rest of the bullpen.

BUT NOT WHEN YOU ARE DOWN 5-4 in the 7th!

This is a move I’d like to kick Girardi in the butt for. You can keep the game close here. You are still in the game. You can sweep the DH and really put it to Boston. But you are bringing into a one-run game a guy with a 15.00 ERA in the last few weeks? Who is only up because it’s a DH? Who will be sent back now after the DH?

WHY?

Sure enough, Wade goes 2/3, 3 R, 4 H, 0 walks or K. His ERA, not that long ago below 3.00, goes up further—to 6.48. Read that again. He was under 3.00, was sent to the minors because it went to 5.79, Girardi brings him into a one-run game, and it’s now 6.48.

I usually don’t criticize Girardi. But this time I must.

Rapada 1/3 IP, 0 R, 1 H, 0 walks, 0 K. 2.59.

D.J. Mitchell finished in what was his third MLB game. 1 IP, 0 R, 1 H, 0 walks, and 1 K. ERA to 2.45.

Eric Chavez hit a HR in the 9th to make it 9-5. His 7th.

Game 45. Orioles crush Yanks 12-2. The return of Alexander the Great, but O’s score 7 in 1st, Jeter HBP and day by day. A new low?

Alexander the Great
No, not that one.

Recap: The game was over before the Yanks came to bat. A Jeter error and Moose’s poor pitching led to the O’s getting 7 in the top of the 1st. Jeter was HBP and needed to leave the game. Thankfully, no break. Day to day with a bruise. For the 21st time in 45 games, the Yanks score less than four. The only two runs? A-Rod goes deep. Welcome back. Expect Hawkins to get a suspension.  For the ugly details (but good and appropriate graphics)…hit more. Continue reading

Game 29. Tigers-Yanks. More pregame notes. Moeller back, and could Hughes just need vision correction?

From Pete Abraham, with my emphasis & comments:

Jon Heyman of SI.com is reporting that Chad Moeller went unclaimed on waivers and is back with the Yankees.

That is good news for the Yankees, especially given the problems Chris Stewart had last night.

If he’s on the roster, I suspect Moeller could play tonight. Jose Molina was limping around pretty good after the game in Cleveland on Monday. That hamstring may be bothering him again.
————

How has it come to this for the Yankees? People are thrilled Chad Moeller is back. This is a guy who was cut in spring training by the Nationals because they liked Wil Nieves better. A team with a $209 million payroll praying that nobody claims Chad Moeller. Amazing.

The reason Moeller can come back to the Yanks now instead of having to spend 10 days at SWB is injury–Alex’s. They now can also send Stewart back (don’t need 3 catchers) and bring up someone else. Some on Abraham’s blog say a pitcher (Rasner) but really….are you going to carry 13 pitchers? A-Rod is down, Ensberg has to play 3B. Gonzo is still on the team, but with Alex down, don’t you need another infielder? Betemit is beginning rehab tomorrow with SWB. He’ll play infield there. My guess is that Ransom comes up. At least, that’s what I’d do.

Guess who Sheff came to Yankee Stadium with yesterday? Damon. According to a N.Y. Post article, both had good reviews of Girardi.

Girardi on Edwar…”he gives us a different look…”

Post reports Yanks not interested in Piazza.

Now THIS is interesting…could Hughes problem be a vision problem? After all, we DO know that he is better than he has shown. Sometimes, something like this (Betemit’s vision problem?) is going on and the problem. You never know.

http://www.nypost.com/seven/04302008/sports/yankees/hughes_battles_glaring_problem_on_mound_108724.htm

Ok, now what? Help wanted. Catcher.

Ok, if Jorge is out a while, what kind of catchers are out there? I need to do some research and will be adding on to this as I do.

Seriously, you think the Yanks will go months with Molina and Chris Stewart?

Damian Miller. 38. Retired. Excellent def. catcher and handler of pitchers. SD was interested in him a few weeks ago. Good option. Can bring along the young pitchers. Will do the little things. .237-4-24 in 186 AB last year for the Brewers. Threw out 12 of 36. Righty bat. .262 career hitter. Postseason exp. with 1999 and 2001 D-Backs, 2003 Cubs. Good option for a backup if you can get him out of retirement.

Mike Piazza. 39. 40 in Sept. Hasn’t caught in two years. Threw out only 13 of 110 in 2006. I could probably steal on him and I am S L O W, in my mid-40s and have a Kruk-like beer gut. Piazza still can hit, .275-8-44 as DH for A’s last year. For what it’s worth, backup C, would probably cost too much, and his D would be horrible. Not likely. Don’t see it happening. But imagine the shrieks from Suzyn Waldman if he pulls a Roger from the owner’s booth. That alone might be worth it.

Adam Melhuse. 36. Texas just released him last week. Switch hitter. Was 4 for 20 for Rangers this year. Caught 2 of 4 trying to steal. 94 AB last year (A’s/Texas) .213-1-9. .236 career hitter. Two postseasons with A’s. 11 HR in 2004.

In the ugh category….Sal Fasano is with Richmond (Braves) in AAA. Wil Nieves is with the Nationals.

Catchers that average .277-22-88 aren’t around. We’re talking about someone in Posada who finished 6th in MVP voting last year. No one expected .338 again, but we were hoping for .270-20-80 or so.

I’m pretty beat, so I’ll add on later. Have any ideas or know if any other catchers could be available, feel free to comment. The Yanks may have to look into trades, call someone like Miller out of retirement (best option?) try bringing up a Pilittere from AA.

Other options are:

Doug Mirabelli. The curse of the Mirabelli? .202-5-16 for Boston last year. A .231 career hitter. Hopefully reveals to all Yankee hitters ways in which Beckett, Dice-K, Laptops and Pimplebutt tip their pitches.

……See how many Molina relatives there are…maybe the whole family tree can catch.

Or we can go with…player/manager Girardi. Yup. Interesting mound visits. You got to wonder if, as a catcher, he’d be allowed to go to the mound more often? Hey, circumvent the rules here. Joe’s only 43. .267 career. Granted he only hit .226 in 2002 and 3 for 23 in 2003, but what better way to groom those young pitchers than to catch them yourself?

Butch Wynegar is the hitting coach for SWB….wonder what Rick Cerone is doing?

Hey, Ralph Houk was stuck behind Yogi and Charlie Silvera for years. 91 games, 158 ABs in 8 MLB seasons. Hey, .272! After all these years, OPPORTUNITY KNOCKS FOR THE MAJOR! Managed for many years so we know he can handle pitchers. Heck, he’s only 88. Wonder how the arm is.

Then again, we could always activate Yogi himself…

Hoo-boy.

UPDATE: 12 hours after I listed some names (some names of course, listed in jest), Pete Abraham started to do the same. Between Abraham and the N.Y. Post, here are some other names:

Mike DiFelice. AAA for Rays. Has an out if he gets a major league offer. He’ll be 39 in May. Has already been up with the Rays for a spell, going 6 for 20 this year. 0 HR, 4 RBI. 10 for 40 with the Mets last year, 0 HR, 5 RBI. Righty hitter. A .236 lifetime hitter. Being a catcher and coming from the Rays, he and Shelley Duncan might have some interesting chats.

Josh Paul. AAA for Houston. 33 in May. Was with (drum roll) the Rays last year. 105 AB. .190-1-9. Righty hitter. .244 career average.

I’ve listed the others. Personally, I think I’d look into Damian Miller.

Game 9. Yanks-KC pregame notes. Channeling the “Truth,” the need for change, and what to do if Posada has to be out long-term?

You wish you could break up the youngsters, but with Pettitte’s setback and the necessity to push him back, you can’t. Thus, Ian Kennedy goes today and hopes to rebound from a poor outing last time out.

The Mets’ loss to the Phils yesterday was their ninth straight loss to them. I think I said eight yesterday.

Yesterday’s loss was one where it looked like the team was dead. No excuses, but that ESPN2 scheduling of playing a night game on what is supposed to be getaway day hurt. They played like a team that got to the hotel at 3 a.m., which is what they were. Yes, they are professionals, but they’re only human. On top of that, it was KC’s home opener. They had off the day before. Nevertheless, you are only as good as that day’s pitcher, and Phil wasn’t good yesterday.

Those of you who have heard Josh “the Yankee Truth” Imboden on YFCR know how he can get when he’s on a rant, esp. if the Yanks are in the middle of a tough period. Trust me, my cell phone gets quite a beating on those days. There is a lot of truth (pardon the pun) to what he says, especially in the need for change. One change advocated for a while has been done. The switch away from Joe Torre to Joe Girardi. More however, still needs to be done. The problem is, it won’t happen overnight.

Although I expect the offense to eventually wake up, with or without Posada and/or Jeter, the method of how the offense approaches things has to change. The problem is, the scripts and characters are the same. The players are ingrained into their roles. The only way out is to change the script by changing the cast of characters. New and fresh blood. Unfortunately, when it comes to position players, that change is a few years away. Austin Jackson and Jose Tabata are at AA Trenton. Others are below that.

Some are resistant to change. I remember the comments on various blogs that screamed when Bernie was let go, the Big Unit was traded or Sheff was dealt. We see the ridiculousness with #21 and the O’Neill chant. I will say this right now. The Yanks may have a big problem in three years. What to do with a 37 year old Jeter? I’m not advocating getting rid of the captain. Far from it. But what happens when you have the “Bernie syndrome” with Derek? It was obvious that Bernie couldn’t play CF anymore. Then it was obvious that he couldn’t play everyday anymore, then it was obvious that he was finished. Fans didn’t want to let go, and some still don’t. What happens when Derek can’t play SS anymore…then should be platooned…then…and it’s not just Derek. The same could be said of Posada, and, for him, sooner than three years from now. What happens if it becomes obvious in 2009 or 2010 that the Yanks are best served with Mo SETTING UP Joba rather than the other way around (assuming that it is determined that Joba is best served to be the closer than put into the rotation). How receptive will the fans and management be to the changes that will be necessary due to time?
Look at the age of the Yanks’ lineup. Prime years are basically 27-34. Most of the players are at the end of that spectrum. Giambi (37) and Posada (36) are past it. Abreu and Damon are 34. Jeter and Matsui will be 34 this summer. Alex turns 33 this summer. Higher ages lead to decreased productivity, less athleticism and more injuries. It seems like the Yanks have been stuck in neutral for a while now. Although the offense is still the envy of many teams around baseball, it is not as multi-dimensional as I’d like. Don’t get me wrong, I still believe it could mash. But I think that the Yanks’ problems began with the types of players they were getting for the offense over various years, starting with Giambi. After Giambi came Matsui, Sheffield and Alex. They all brought offense, but it was the same type of player the Yanks were going after. Power. Sheff and Alex brought some speed, but Giambi and Matsui certainly didn’t. Only Alex could be said to have brought a glove, and that glove was moved to a new position, thus negating that while he was in the process of learning that new position. In short, the lineup became more like a beer-league softball lineup rather than a baseball lineup. Between Giambi, Matsui and Posada, you had players who couldn’t steal bases or that were not guaranteed to be able to take the extra base. Giambi (and to a lesser extent Matsui and Sheffield) didn’t add anything defensively. Yes, they could mash you to death. But the defense wasn’t going to be great (hurting a suspect pitching staff) and the baserunning wasn’t consistent. You had good baserunning from Jeter, then later Abreu and Damon, but not throughout the lineup. By contrast, the 1998 Yanks were more balanced. Except for Tino and naturally the catchers, the team could run the bases well. They didn’t have lumbering slug-or-nothing players. The defense was pretty solid, save for Bernie’s arm or Knoblauch’s 1999 disintegration. They were more athletic. On the bench were Raines, Bush and Strawberry, all of whom ran the bases well.

Josh has stated for years, “Hitters not Sluggers”. I’d like to see more of a National League approach myself. The homers will come. But I’d like to see a more athletic team, and that won’t happen until the likes of Gardner, Jackson, and Tabata can make this ballclub. As much as I like Shelley Duncan, he doesn’t add that ingredient I’m looking for that the aforementioned hopefully will. That’s one reason I was hoping Gardner (who has missed three games with a foot/ankle injury) would make the team. It’s one reason why, if the Yanks offense and Damon in particular are struggling in mid-May, I’d like Gardner to take over for Damon in LF and in the leadoff spot. It would FORCE the Yanks to change. A change that is necessary. You can only be stuck in neutral for so long. There is no worse example of not adapting or changing your gameplan than Game 6 of the 2004 ALCS, when the Yanks wouldn’t even bunt on a pitcher pitching on what was basically one leg. Were the Yanks to face the same scenario today, would they bunt on him? I can’t answer that with any certainty.

The Yanks have to get out of neutral. Somehow, the tiger has to change his stripes. What it may mean however, is getting new tigers. After all, should the switch to Gardner happen, what becomes of Damon? At $13M and another year after this one (same as Matsui), who would take him and how much of his salary needs to be eaten? I hope JD picks it up. But after three consecutive first-round losses in the ALDS, I hope for a change in offensive philosophy. I’m happy that the team has won a couple of low-scoring games. However the clutch hitting hasn’t been there so far. The success ratio with RISP hasn’t been there so far. The same old too many LOB. Think small. Littleball. Big things will then happen. Don’t think huge. Start with the lowest common denominator (LCD); meaning working counts, taking pitches, going the other way, hitting behind the runner. The basics. Once those are in play, big things happen.

Play baseball again. Not beer-league softball. Not just offensively but defensively too. It’s early and time will tell how the Girardi offense contrasts with the Torre offense. I hope it does contrast. Get back to the 1996 style of offense. Billyball if you want to call it that, too. Change has been needed for a while now. I obviously have no arguments with the number of runs scored the past few years, but often it’s feast or famine. I want the results as before; just by a slightly different–and more consistent–method.

No word as I know on Alberto Gonzalez coming up for Derek or Chad Moeller for Posada or any DL time. Frankly, I think I’d rather have Ransom right now than Gonzalez, but I can see the Yanks thinking. Of course, having Gonzalez in the lineup at SS would force you to change your offensive strategy now, wouldn’t it? The Yanks do face a lefty tomorrow. Does Girardi go with Ensberg at 3B, Alex at SS and Duncan at 1b? It’s a thought.

I don’t think they’d do it, but it is a thought. I mean, things could be worse than this idea. In previous years, the Yanks have seen dregs like Sal Fasano, Kelly Stinnett, and Wil Nieves as their backup catchers. Chad Moeller doesn’t thrill me. Now I know he doesn’t fit the bill for youth and athleticism that I’d want, but Mike Piazza is out there if he wants to come back as a backup catcher. Before you scream about his age or the fact (which I know full well) that he is poor defensively, read the last line again. BACKUP catcher. Compare Piazza as a backup catcher to Fasano (7 for 49 in 2006), Stinnett (.228-1-9 in 2006), Nieves (.164-0-8 last year) or Moeller (.224 career). Piazza hasn’t caught since 2006 but if Posada has to go on the DL for a considerable amount of time, I’d rather have Piazza giving Molina a blow once a week than Chad Moeller. In 83 games last year with the A’s, Piazza hit .275-8-44 in 309 at bats. When’s the last time you got that from someone you would sign as a backup catcher? That’s nirvana compared to what the Yanks have received from backup catchers lately. Is he the Piazza of old? No. Is he a long-term solution? No. You are only looking for a fill-in if Jorge is out for a considerable amount of time. 2008 only. At 39, yes, he goes against the youth and athleticism I advocate. But backup catcher is a different scenario. Atheticism in a catcher, esp. a backup, isn’t a high prerequisite. Besides, in comparison to what you had…and as far as a PH for Molina late in a close game, who better? The thing is, has Piazza stayed in shape? Can he still hit? Would he accept a backup role? Hey, it makes more sense (especially if Posada turns out to be out for a long-time) than those scenarios of any team signing Barry Bonds. First though, let’s see where Posada is and how long he may be out of the lineup.

Update: MLBTR states that the Padres are looking at Damian Miller. The 38-year-old Miller hit .237-4-24 as the Brewers’ backup C last year. A good defensive catcher, Miller was the catcher on the 2001 Diamondbacks World Series champs and just missed the 2003 World Series with the Cubs (thanks to Bartman). His bat is so-so, .262 for his career (OPS+ 88), but compared to the backup catchers we’ve seen lately on the Yanks (see above) ….

Physical evidence against Roger?

Brian McNamee today apparently provided federal investigators with physical evidence against Roger Clemens. Apparently McNamee kept syringes, gauze pads and vials from the 2000 and 2001 seasons because he feared Clemens would deny illicit drug use if the matter was ever investigated. Now I wonder—isn’t 7 years a long time to keep this stuff??? You do have to wonder if the exhibits have been tampered with in the meantime don’t you? An anonymous source close to McNamee said the former trainer gave the Justice Department’s BALCO investigators vials with traces of steroids and growth hormone, as well as bloodstained syringes and gauze pads. The NY Daily News reports that Justice Department officials have sent the evidence to a lab for testing. If the materials prove to contain traces of drugs and blood, prosecutors may attempt to get a court order for a DNA sample from Clemens.

One thing can be ascertained–if there is Roger DNA on it, then Clemens could very well be screwed. Roger just gave a sworn deposition to Congress denying everything. Should this physical evidence incriminate Clemens, then a perjury charge could be forthcoming.

Last year Topps put out a phony baseball card of Derek Jeter which had Mickey Mantle in the dugout and President Bush in the stands. This year we see a phony card which shows Rudy Giuliani in the middle of the pack of Red Sox celebrating their title. Hey, after endorsing the Sox last year in the World Series (boo! Rudy how could ya?) Rudy deserves the satirical card. By the way, let’s hope that Johnny Damon does better at the plate this year than with political endorsements, since he struck out in endorsing Rudy. Tom Petty could sing “Free Fallin”, but Rudy’s now-dead campaign probably had that tune as its theme song.

From Bryan Hoch’s Bomber Beat…We now know what will happen to Thurman Munson’s locker – vacant since the captain was killed in a 1979 plane crash – when the Yankees move across the street after this season. The Yankees plan to transport Munson’s locker into a special team museum that will be accessible to fans at the new Yankee Stadium.

There is a 21-year old Japanese pitcher who could be posted next year, although I have to see it to believe it. The posting fee would rival Dice-K’s or perhaps exceed it. Yu Darvish, half-Japanese and half-Iranian (yes, you read that right) is the next “big thing.” The Yanks, I’m sure, would be interested, and after Irabu and Igawa, maybe the third time would be the charm. He is 6’5″ tall, and the righty is 32-15, 2.53 in his Japanese career so far. From Wikipedia…Trey Hillman, the former manager of the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters (and current K.C. Royals manager), has said of Yu Darvish, “How good do I think he can be? I think he can be the best in the world. He’s not there yet … but I think he can potentially pass a guy like Matsuzaka.” (My emphasis). One reason I’m skeptical of his being posted is that Darvish has told the Japanese press that he has no intention of seeking a move to America anytime in the future. He is on course to be pitching for the Japanese national team in this year’s Olympics in Beijing, and he might be worth keeping an eye on—just in case. He was 15-5, 1.82 last year, and 12-5, 2.89 in 2006.

Ken Rosenthal believes Sammy Sosa, Mike Piazza, Roger Clemens, and Barry Bonds are likely to retire. He notes that it could make for an interesting Hall of Fame ballot in 2013 if all four hang up their cleats now. There haven’t been any steroid allegations against Piazza (perhaps the best hitting catcher ever, .308 with 427 HR), but as for the other three…that vote could be very interesting because of the steroid controversies. Sosa has 609 HR, Bonds 762 HR and Clemens has 354 wins, but could they all get a first-year backlash that sees none of that trio get in?

Another lefty reliever goes elsewhere. The Yanks need a lefty reliever, and now I’m beginning to wonder if they ever tried to get one. No Mahay, no Affeldt, no Hendrickson (assuming Affeldt and Hendrickson would accept bullpen duty) and now no Trever Miller who goes to the Rays. I’m perplexed. I mean, are they that confident in Henn, Igawa, Chase Wright, Heath Phillips or Billy Traber to be a lefty out of the ‘pen? Will they even have a lefty out of the bullpen?

MLBTR says the Yanks flirted with signing Dallas McPherson (to which I say, why? 3B is covered, and as far as 1B/DH, don’t the Yanks have enough? What’s more, he’s a lefty bat…Betemit is a switch-hitter, and at AAA there are Eric Duncan (free fallin’) and Juan Miranda–and yes, Jason Giambi is still with the Yanks). Meanwhile, Buster Olney says that the Yanks eyed Bobby Kielty, who goes back to Boston.

Word now comes that Terrelle Pryor, the top college football recruit, won’t make his decision today. He wants to visit Penn State first. His dad apparently is pushing for PSU, and I’ve heard rumors that Pryor was leaning toward Ohio State. PSU, OSU and Michigan are considered the frontrunners. As I stated, being a PSU grad, I’d love to get Pryor to Penn State, but I think his style and Rich Rodriguez at Michigan may have him pick the Wolverines. One thing I read blew me away–PSU has been looking at and “recruiting” the kid since he was a freshman in high school.

More signings

Noon. ESPN reports that the Phils have signed Geoff Jenkins to a 2 year deal, and that he’ll platoon with Jayson Werth in RF. I wrote about Jenkins in an earlier post.

Checking in with MLB Trade Rumors: The Phils reached an agreement with Chad Durbin to a contract yesterday. Durbin was 8-7, 4.72 (ERA+ 97) for the Tigers this past season. For his career, the 30-year-old is 25-37, 5.75 (ERA+ 82). I have a feeling Durbin won’t like CBP. The back end of the Phils’ rotation doesn’t look inspiring. After Hamels, Myers (going back into the rotation) and Kendrick (nice rookie year), the # 4 starter appears to be 45-year-old Jamie Moyer and Durbin or Adam Eaton (10-10, 6.29; ERA+ 73) for the last spot. The Phils can hit, and it looks like they may need to. They have dropped out of the bidding for Kyle Lohse, who could be Mets-bound. See the previous post on Lohse. The Phils (smartly?) don’t want to go more than three years on Lohse. As I mentioned before, Bora$$ is being his usual self, and trying to get more for someone not worth it. You have to love how someone who earned $4.25 million last year and who went 9-12, 4.62 figures they are worth a four-year deal worth $10-11 million a year. If only the real world was like that for you and me.

The Padres have signed Robert Fick and Jeff DaVanon.

MLB also quotes Hank Steinbrenner as stating that as of now the Yanks are not currently interested in Mark Prior. I guess the Yanks have learned a lesson from Jaret Wright, Carl Pavano and others with injury backgrounds.

As of now, the top FA pitcher out there appears to be Livan Hernandez. See my previous post about Livan, who has gotten progressively worse in each of his last four seasons.

Outside of Bonds and Cameron, who teams are shying away from for obvious reasons (Bonds’ age and indictment; Cameron’s suspension), the best player still on the market could be Brad Wilkerson. The 30-year-old hit .234-20-62 for the Rangers last year (OPS+ 104). A troublesome trend is Wilkerson’s walks. He walked 80 or more times each year from 2002-2005, topping 100 in 2004, but he only walked 80 times COMBINED in the past two seasons. His 162 g. average is .250-22-69 with 85 walks but 164 Ks. He can serve as a decent platoon player between the OF and 1B, but he needs to get back to being selective and cut down on the K’s a bit.

Two fading 39-year-olds are still out there if anyone wants them: Sammy Sosa (probably going back to Texas) and Mike Piazza.

Chad Jennings, who runs an SWB blog, reports that Eric Duncan and Juan Miranda will most likely be splitting time at 1b/DH for SWB this year. I have written before that I am not sold on Eric Duncan as I believe Jennings is more positive on him than I am. I would be inclined to include Duncan in a deal if it lands a Santana or Marte, but if Duncan wasn’t claimed in the Rule 5 Draft, how much in demand could he possibly be?

There are some traditions I like, and others that to me, seem hokey. The roll call by the Bleacher Creatures–classic. Some traditions by other teams, like “Sal’s Pals” for Sal Fasano when he was on the Phils, or the Cubs “Take Me Out to the Ball Game.” I am still trying to figure out what the heck Ozzy Osbourne was singing that time he was at Wrigley Field. The Presidents’ Race at Washington was cool, even if it is a rip-off of the Brewers Sausage and Kielbasi race (or whatever–ask Randall Simon). The Rally Monkey was novel. The hokey things are naming something “Nation”. I mean, Red Sox Nation sounds like a Communist conspiracy out of the McCarthy era. Sweet Caroline? I don’t get it. After all, Neil Diamond was born in Brooklyn and I think having “gone Hollywood”, is most likely a Dodger fan. “Thank God I’m a Country Boy” in Baltimore? I don’t get that either. Baltimore isn’t exactly Hicksville. Don’t get me started on the “wave”, which should have died out 20 years ago. One thing I found funny was in going to Chicago a few years ago. I appreciated the White Sox “Go-Go” pregame video, and know about their Fox and Aparicio “Go-Go” history, but attributing Konerko or Thome to “Go-Go” was just hilarious. One thing about Chicago that was great though, was the best fireworks show I ever saw. They were celebrating the 40th anniversary of a Beatles concert at Old Comiskey, and had fireworks to Beatles music. Absolutely awesome.

Update 10:15 p.m. Jason Grimsley’s statement was made public, and it revealed some new names regarding HGH usage, steroids, uppers and PE drugs. Allen Watson, Geronimo Berroa, Pete Incaviglia. In addition, there is a mention of uppers usage in 2005 with his then teammates Tejada, Raffy and Sosa.