Results tagged ‘ Alex Rodriguez ’

A Modest (Moot) Proposal

So Adrian Beltre is going to cost the Texas Rangers $16 million a year for six years, and Derek Jeter is going to cost the New York Yankees $17 million a year for three years (maybe more).

Did the Yankees ever consider the financial madness, or the lack of quality control, that represents? Or, to phrase it more correctly, how many times will they be forced to think about it in the next three years, as Jeter continues his descent from impact player to easily-jammed to liability to living statue?
If it seems asinine to consider asking Alex Rodriguez to move back to shortstop after seven years at third base, it certainly isn’t much more so than is expecting Jeter to suddenly regain the range that deteriorated so noticeably last year, or to do that and be a productive shortstop on his 40th birthday.
All greatness comes to an end, and usually a year or two later, so does all sentimentality. The Yankees released Babe Ruth in 1934. They forced Yogi Berra into the manager’s office in 1963 and fired him in 1964. They dumped Casey Stengel days after his 10th World Series in a dozen years in the uniform. They let Reggie walk. They cut The Scooter on Old Timers’ Day. They marginalized and then released Bernie Williams in 2006. They cashiered Joe Torre.
If you are horrified by the thought of the Yankees simply throwing away Jeter, how horrified are you by the image of seeing him benched for Ramiro Pena or Cesar Izturis or somebody while the 2012 Yankees are chasing Toronto for third place behind the Sox and Rays, and you’re sitting there thinking “they could’ve had Adrian Beltre for a million less?”

No Tex, Lots Of Texas

The bad news for the Yankees is that Mark Teixeira suffered a Grade 2 strain of the hamstring and will miss the rest of the season.

The good news for the Yankees is that likely means he’s only going to miss one game.
Ron Washington, concurring that to beat this crumbling but still dangerous New York team requires treating them like vampires, did exactly that the last two nights, managing as intensely in the 9th Inning as he did in the 1st. The results are obvious and the Yanks’ best news is probably that ex-Golden Gloves boxer “Grim LeRogue” didn’t get close enough Monday night to try to beat up Alex Rodriguez in some kind of expression of obsession with actress Cameron Diaz.
The Rangers did it for him, and not just to A-Rod. As it proves, should’ve been a sweep. The questions are obvious: why wasn’t Joe Girardi satisfied with five two-run innings from A.J. Burnett? How is Sergio Mitre at the playoffs without a ticket? Just leave the pile of queries in a box for the next manager.
One non-ALCS note: Barry Bonds at the Giants game. Just me or did it look like he lost weight? From his head!
Let’s go to the pretty pictures:
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More than a little fuzzy (sorry). But the gentleman leaning on the seat ahead of him, hands together, upper left, is Nolan Ryan. In the lower right, Mayor Mike Bloomberg. This was taken Monday Night, but each deserves a shout-out. Bloomberg stayed until nearly the final out of each Yankee debacle and despite the vast numbers of empty seats, Ryan politely stayed in his 6th row locale.

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Delighted to find Mgr. Washington is a viewer of the tv show. We had two nice chats pre-game and he did a heckuva job. On the right of course, Martha Stewart, who, so long ago, on Opening Day, took a picture of me and tweeted it to her followers, so tonight I took this picture and tweeted it to both her followers and my own.
Big celeb night, half the cast of Saturday Night Live in the front row (Andy Samberg, Jason Sudeikis, Fred Armisen, Kenan Thompson, Jay Pharoah, producer Lorne Michaels and that could’ve easily been this week’s host Emma Stone). Across the aisle from Martha: Mark Cuban. Upstairs, Michael Jordan and Jay-Z. 
And any of them could’ve pitched better than Sergio Mitre.
One more photo, this is from Monday night – a friend of the blog. That is your Toronto Blue Jays’ rehabbing reliever and author (hard at work at his sequel to the now classic Bullpen Gospels, to say nothing of trying to explain pitching to me) Dirk Hayhurst:
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Bizarre Threat Against Alex Rodriguez

Few recent stories have sounded so comical yet contained such madness and potential threat. In the top of the fifth inning if Monday nights third game of the American League Championship Series, a man bolted from the stands behind third base and scrambled towards the foul line. Police and Yankee Stadium Security caught up to him quickly, but despite their intervention the individual continued to struggle for several minutes before he was finally removed – still kicking and shouting – from the field. Just as Game Four of the Series began tonight, Ben Rogers of the Ben and Skin show on the ESPN radio station in Dallas broke the amazing back story: the man was not just an ordinary drunken spectator but, as one police source phrased it to me, a guy intent on harming Alex Rodriguez because of Cameron Diaz. As Rogers reported from his multiple police sources, the man was identified as 33-year old Grim LeRogue of the Bronx, and he had gotten into the Stadium and on to the field without even a ticket to the game. But he was carrying photographs of Diaz and Rodriguez and what I was told was some kind of threat against Rodriguez. There is no evidence that Rodriguez was aware of the threat, at least as of late in Mondays game as he was chatting and joking with fans near the on-deck circle during the bottom of the 9th. Yankees Media Relations Director Jason Zillo adds he had no indication until the middle of Tuesday nights game of the nature of the on-field incident and did not think Rodriguez did, either. Unless there are two Grim LeRougees in the metropolitan New York area, some of his resistance might be explained by this: a Grim LeRogue fought in the areas Golden Gloves in 2008.

Rangers Run Past Yankees?

Whether or not his team actually beats the New York Yankees, I have to start this by standing up and applauding Ron Washington’s primary gamble.

He has in large part been forced into it by the reality of the fifth game against Tampa Bay, but there were other options and he chose the one in which unless the ALCS goes seven, he will only start Cliff Lee once. This means that one of the three key figures in this series will be not Lee, but C.J. Wilson.
Thus a lefthander will start Game One against the Yankees, and another one would start Game Seven, and because they are so scheduled, they would also each start a game in Yankee Stadium. Lefties in Yankee Stadium – your best bet to beat them. Provided they are good lefthanders.
The Yankees’ switch-hitters are all more powerful against righthanders. Their lefthand bats (Cano, Gardner, and Granderson) tend towards bad splits against southpaws. And Alex Rodriguez has mysteriously lost much of his punch against lefties (he hit .214 against them during the regular season). 
But is Wilson a good lefthander, or a bad one? Consider what the seven susceptible Yankee bats (Cano, Gardner, Granderson, Posada, Rodriguez, Swisher, Teixeira) did against the Twins’ southpaws:
Versus All Minnesota LHP                  11-39  .282  two 2B, two 3B
Versus Fuentes & Mijares                     1-7   .143
Versus Duensing & Liriano                  10-32  .313

Admittedly it’s a small sample (two starts and five relief appearances) but there are some indicators. Though Marcus Thames tattooed Brian Duensing for a home run, none of the Yankee Seven hit a long ball off any of the lefties, even though Posada, Rodriguez, Swisher, and Teixeira all batted righty against them.

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The inference, I think, is not a very complicated one. The entire Yankee line-up save for Jeter and Thames are stymied by effective lefties and merely slowed down a little by bad ones. We can pretty well guess to which category Cliff Lee belongs (although the second time the Yankees faced him in the World Series last year they beat him up for five runs, even in defeat). The question is, which kind is Wilson (the guess is: the good and improving kind). The indeterminable is whether either of the Rangers’ righties steal a win against New York, which would obviously reduce the Texas reliance on their former closer and their mid-season acquisition.
I described Wilson as one of the three key figures in this series. Given that Manager Washington tipped his hand against the Rays, the other two are Francisco Cervelli and Jorge Posada. The Rangers were the runningest team in the first round, and they are now facing the team with the fewest caught-stealings in the major leagues in 2010. Cervelli, Chad Moeller, Posada and the Yankee pitching staff stopped just 23 out of 155 would-be thieves during the year.
Minnesota didn’t try to swipe one bag in its cameo against the Yankees. Texas tried seven (and succeeded six times) against Tampa. Rays’ catchers had nailed 25 percent of runners during the season. The Yanks only caught 15 percent.
I think you see where Washington is going with this. Try to at least slow the “Susceptible Seven” down with Wilson and Lee, to say nothing of Darren Oliver in relief. But much more impressively, run the Yankees crazy. Five Rangers stole 14 or more during the regular season, Josh Hamilton had eight, and Jeff Francoeur had eight while with the Mets.
The Rangers may literally steal this series. I think the Yankees are utterly unprepared for this kind of onslaught, and if you think there’s a Plan B about swapping Cervelli in for the decreasingly mobile Posada, think again. Posada may have only caught 13 of 85 bandits, but Cervelli only got nine out of 64.
As suggested here when New York swept a series which I thought they’d lose, the Yankees are vampires. Manage passively against them as Ron Gardenhire did, let them up off the mat for a second, and you lose. But Ron Washington has already shown an absolute unwillingness to sit back, and that aggressivenes won him Game Five against Tampa. Take the chance with me. Rangers win, and might just get to hold Mr. Lee back to start Game One of the World Series.

Such A Strange Day At Yankee Stadium

Alex Rodriguez: DNP – Broadcast-related injury.

There are two versions of how A-Rod came to miss this afternoon’s second game of the Yankees-Red Sox series. In the first version, with Rodriguez standing near third base while teammate Lance Berkman took his batting practice cuts, my former Fox Baseball colleague Joe Buck shouted out to him. Rodriguez, in his 17th professional season, inexplicably turned to answer him, and while not keeping his eye on what was happening at the plate, got nailed in the shin by a Berkman liner.
In the second version, Buck was minding his own business in foul territory behind third base, when Rodriguez, in his 17th professional season, inexplicably turned to yell “Hi, Joe!,” and while not keeping his eye on what was happening at the plate, got nailed in the shin by a Berkman liner.
Both versions then converge with Rodriguez then doing the Elizabeth-Elizabeth-This-Is-The-Big-One-I’m-Comin-To-See-You-Elizabeth bit, trying to shake off the pain, finally collapsing to the turf behind a protective screen in centerfield, not far behind second base (“I just remember getting hit and started jumping around like a rabbit,” he told The New York Times, “It looked like a scene from ‘Platoon.'”). Several of his teammates, who have long found Mr. Rodriguez to be a kind of dramatic figure, laughed uproariously as they surrounded him, assuming he was overdoing it. The Times includes Derek Jeter and Mark Teixeira in this list. 
After being attended to by Yankee trainer Gene Monahan and a couple of Yankee Stadium paramedics Rodriguez limped off. We are told he personally told utilityman Ramiro Pena something like “You’ll have to play kid, I’m not going to make it.” It is believed the Yankee team laughter ended before the pronouncement but this has not been verified.
X-Rays of Rodriguez’s leg showed no damage and, to date, no nomination for a Tony, Emmy, or Oscar.
MEANWHILE, IN A HOLE IN THE GROUND:
Since the new Stadium opened a year ago, media have noticed this odd scene — just to the visitors’ side of the area behind home plate —  in the giant aqueduct-sized main tunnel that connects the clubhouses and runs from one end of the park to the other (forgive the eerie green colors, that’s pretty much what it looks like back there):
My assumption all this time – and my fairly good sense of direction/location from my tours of the park while still under construction in 2008 – was that this was the exact spot from which the contractors pulled the David Ortiz shirt which had been buried by a mischievous Red Sox fan (I was told the guy also buried a scorecard from the 2004 ALCS in which Boston rallied from down oh-three, but the Yanks have always denied this). But why the railing?
The answer is below:
The hole was never filled back in!
The seemingly solid surface shown in the first photo is in fact a large piece of plexiglas, clouded with dust, which can be lifted up by an alert uniformed attendant, for the benefit of fans in the Suites Club. They can then stand around and take pictures of an attempted Reverse Curse (or, for the less dramatically-inclined, a hole in the ground).

AND FINALLY:
The front edge of a new age. Heard, for the first time, before the Yanks and Sox met, from a fan, to one of the swarming Stadium employees, outside the home plate entrance: “And where did you say the old stadium was?”

They Booed The Winning Run

This is not unique to the Bronx. I’ve heard it in Boston, I’ve heard it in Philly, I’ve heard it in all the places where the smart fans dwell and even the ones where they don’t. 

The sequence last night went as follows:

1. Alex Rodriguez ties up the game in the bottom of the ninth with a two-run homer off Jonathan Papelbon.

2. Papelbon retires Robinson Cano for the second out to keep alive his chances of getting out of the game alive.

3. Papelbon hits Francisco Cervelli on the elbow putting the winning run on base and bringing home run threat Marcus Thames to the plate.

4. The Yankee crowd boos.


You’re aware of what Thames did next. I’d just like to stop at the booing part. Nobody’s suggesting a Bronx crowd should be applauding Papelbon for plunking a Yankee, but, honestly, if Cervelli can get up and walk to first, that’s a good thing, why on earth are you booing the gift of the winning run sent to first on a hit batsman?


Sigh.
Incidentally, Thames’ subsequent game-winning home run ended a truly long drought. That was his first homer as a Yankee in (any) Yankee Stadium since June 10, 2002, when he debuted with an improbable first-pitch-he-saw-in-the-bigs blast off Randy Johnson. This statistic is somewhat skewed by the fact that he didn’t play for the Yankees during the 2003-09 seasons. Still, a bizarre fact.
As was the reality that I have now witnessed both of Thames’ home Yankee homers. Not to say the Red Sox and Yanks play a Tom & Jerry Cartoon version of the game, but even though I was on tv until 9 PM, I figured if I could get to the yard by 9:30 I’d still get to see 90 minutes of baseball (I got there at 9:28; they ended at 10:58 – and eight runs were scored, including five homers, after my arrival)
Can’t resist the screen cap, sorry:
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YES NETWORK VIA MLB NETWORK

Goofy McSlackjaw there in the middle is yours truly. At the far left, in the Yankee cap, is Joe Piscopo, live, even though it wasn’t Saturday Night Sports.
One more image (I keep saying this is the last of them; I make no promises) from over the weekend. All that’s left of the old place is a collapsed pile of the rightfield corner.
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Thanks to all for pumping this blog up to 4th in the MLB Pro category in April. I’m genuinely honored by the interest.

I Guess It Really IS His Mound

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COMCAST SPORTS NET via MLB NETWORK

You’ll remember that after the contretemps with Alex Rodriguez, Braden had said “If my grandmother ran across the mound, she’d hear the same thing he (Rodriguez) heard.” After escaping the group hug with his teammates, with whom did he celebrate the perfect game?
His grandmother, Peggy Lindsey. 
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COMCAST SPORTS NET via MLB NETWORK

Dallas Braden admits to having been a wild teenager, and he got wilder still after losing his mother – to skin cancer – when she was barely in her 40’s. “I came real close to taking it away from myself, then my grandmother stepped in and kind of slapped me back into shape and got me going,” he told Baseball America after he won his first big league game. “I told my grandma that someday she would watch me pitch in the majors.”
The loyalty goes both ways. Braden throws a perfect game – on Mother’s Day – on Breast Cancer Awareness Day – for Grandma. And Grandma promptly tells the media, per this tweet by A’s beat writer Susan Slusser, “Stick it, A-Rod!”

Hey You Kids, Get Off My Mound; And The Next Manager Is…

I have to agree with Dallas Braden – it was a sign of disrespect, or an attempt at gamesmanship, for Alex Rodriguez to cut back to first across the mound in the afternoon in Oakland. And I have to agree with Rodriguez that Braden’s temper tantrum in the dugout was bush league. And I have to agree with whoever investigates Braden’s comments that they probably already constitute a threat, or certainly something to watch in future meetings.

MANAGERIAL HEIR APPARENTS?
Here in New York the Cubs just completed a somnambulant series loss to the Mets and the listlessness of the team makes one wonder if Lou Piniella has just had enough of his underachieving, poorly-designed team. The irony here is that Cub starting pitching may not have been this good in decades – good enough that I entirely buy the idea of moving Carlos Zambrano to the bullpen, at least unless and until Carlos Silva or Tom Gorzelanny collapses.
But Piniella’s ennui and the unlikely fact that two other big league skippers are already official lame ducks has made me think, and put out a few calls, about who would be the likeliest successor to each of the current 30 big league skippers. There are some interesting facts to consider: none of the current managers were promoted to the big league job from having been manager of the team’s AAA affiliate, and only six (Gardenhire, Geren, Jerry Manuel, Riggleman, Trembley, Tracy) were promoted from their own team’s coaching staff (although Cox, Gaston, Girardi, Hinch, and Charlie Manuel were working in their organizations in other jobs when they became the boss). 
Thus 19 of the current 30 big league managers are outside hires, making predicting successors a dicey business. Still we’ll try – and none of these names are meant to suggest I know anything about any imminent changes – I’ll start in the NL and try the AL over the weekend. Where I have no clue, I’ll say so:
ARIZONA: No clue and given the last hire, it could come from almost anywhere.
ATLANTA: Maybe Chico Cadahia or Eddie Perez, but I think the best bets are two former Cox lieutenants, Fredi Gonzalez of the Marlins, and ex-Brewers boss Ned Yost. If the latter were the obvious choice, he’d probably be back on the staff, not an advisor in KC.
CHICAGO: It’s Ryne Sandberg. If Lou walked away suddenly there’d be a good chance Alan Trammell would be an acting skipper, but in any kind of orderly transition, it’s Sandberg.
CINCINNATI: No obvious candidate. Possibly Mark Berry – it would be nice to see AAA skipper Rick Sweet given first shot, but he may be a victim of his own development ability.
COLORADO: No clue.
FLORIDA: It would be Carlos Tosca short term, but the Marlins would probably like a name if they made a change.
HOUSTON: Very unlikely that any change would take place. Dave Clark would probably get another chance if Brad Mills runs screaming into the street.
LOS ANGELES: Mattingly. How odd will that look?
MILWAUKEE: It was a surprise that given how well Dale Sveum handled what could have been a sinking ship, coming in weeks before the playoffs in 2008, that he didn’t keep the job. Even now when Ken Macha goes, it could easily be not Sveum but Willie Randolph.
NEW YORK: Bob Melvin, Major League Scout. His managerial track record is pretty good. Ironically, the man for whom he took over in Arizona after the briefest off-season tenure in managerial history, Wally Backman, is the top minor league possibility.
PHILADELPHIA: No clue. 
PITTSBURGH: They like Carlos Garcia. How much, I don’t know. The Bucs (despite the 20-0 loss) have a serious conviction they are breaking through under John Russell.
SAN DIEGO: No clue.
SAN FRANCISCO: No clue. Last internal hire was Dusty Baker.
ST. LOUIS: Jose Oquendo, unless somebody else has grabbed him first.
WASHINGTON: Pat Listach. That may not be soon, but that may be the plan.

McGwire 3: The Advisor

In The New York Times, my friend Rich Sandomir has an extraordinary piece on the arranging of the Costas/McGwire interview, and the rest of yesterday’s ‘limited hang-out,’ as a component of the Mark McGwire Contrition Tour.

Sandomir doesn’t address if this was McGwire’s batcrap crazy idea, or it was designed by somebody else: that everybody will believe he took steroids, often by injection (“I preferred the orals”), solely for the purpose of healing his tortured body, just so he wouldn’t waste the gift “from the man upstairs” and to avoid the shame of hearing “teammates walking by saying, ‘he’s injured again.”
But he does reveal that there was somebody involved in this strange dance, conveniently transcripted here. McGwire has a damage control advisor, and he’s Ari Fleischer, the former Press Secretary to President Bush. I vowed long ago not to mix baseball and politics here, and I’m confident that I’d be saying the same thing if this were Robert Gibbs from the current White House: if this was Fleischer’s plan, he owes McGwire a refund. If it wasn’t, he needs to tell Mac never to suggest it again.
It will to some degree fly with a small percentage of the public, and l point to the irony of a comment yesterday by somebody posting under the name “Mantlewasarockstar.” Let’s accept McGwire’s premise – even though this took place long after the heartbreaking death of Lyle Alzado, and the sudden retirement of Florence Griffith-Joyner, and the other horror health stories of steroids abused. Last night he told Costas he had started his heaviest use of steroids in the winrer of 1993-94, to try to regain his health.
But by McGwire’s admission, he “broke down in ’94. Missed three quarters of the year. I go into ’95 and I broke down again. I could have been – but for some reason I kept doing it.”
He did it to get healthy, got less healthy, but kept doing it? From 1993 through at least 1998? This has now sunk to the level of the Rafael Palmeiro, Alex Rodriguez and Barry Bonds denials: ‘I, as a top athlete dependent on my body for my multi-million-dollar income, had no idea what I was putting in my body. Coulda been dangerous pharmaceuticals. Or flaxseed oil. Or something Miguel Tejada got at a sample sale at a Dominican drug store.’
More over, if you’re buying this, Mr/Ms Mantlewasarockstar, and it really still was some kind of firm conviction this was about body repair and not artificially-increased home run power – body repair is by itself artificially-increased home run power! Consider the name under which you comment: Mickey Mantle. 
What would Mantle have been like with a miracle elixir that let him come back from injuries? What would Maris have been like (it wasn’t just the bad taste of public reaction that led him to retire seven years later – he only played two full seasons after he broke Ruth’s record)? Or Albert Belle? Or every sore-armed pitcher whom McGwire faced, or faced at less than full strength, or would never face at all?
If something improper, immoral, illegal, or unethical was used by Mark McGwire to get himself back on the field, and if it really did nothing whatsoever to add enough power to get transform just thirty of what had been his fly ball outs, into the stands each year – it, by itself, was a performance-enhancing drug. In some ways it becomes even more of a performance-enhancing drug: it didn’t just improve what he did from, say, 40 to 70.
It increased it from 0 to 70.
Plug: we’ll deconstruct parts of the MLB Network interview with McGwire, tonight on Countdown.
UPDATE: You’ll notice a comment comparing the euphoria effects of amphetamines to the hypothetical effects of steroids as McGwire misunderstands them. Clearly I wasn’t explicit enough, so consider that the sentence I wrote above, “What would Mantle have been like with a miracle elixir that let him come back from injuries?” as actually reading, “What would Mantle have been like with a miracle elixir that let him come back healthy from injuries, as opposed to a drug that temporarily left him too stoned and/or strung out to care.”
Also, “FAIL”? When did the condescending use of this word as an argument-ender jump the shark, 2006 or 2005?

The Phillies Already Won?

Imagine my surprise. To say nothing of Johnny Damon’s, and everybody else fortunate enough to be in Philly tonight.

As our NBC station in Philadelphia reports, the Philadelphia Inquirer has not only run an advertisement congratulating the Phils on a second straight Series crown, they’ve also reported some sort of exchange of Rush Limbaugh for Alex Rodriguez.

As I understand it, they’re still trying to reassure Kate Hudson that it really was just a typo.

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