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Wednesday, July 16, 2014

My thoughts on the All-Star Game and Adam Wainwright's pipe shot to Derek Jeter

I totally called it. I was on my way home from Manhattan in the rain, listening to last night's All-Star Game on my Nano radio. And right after some very loud fan called Derek Jeter overrated at the game, Jeter seemed to shut him up with a leadoff double against Adam Wainwright. Squawker Jon texted me that Jeter got a double, and I texted back, "I heard Wainwright got tips from Denny McLain." (Back in the day, McLain grooved one to Mickey Mantle for the Mick's 535th career homer.)

I know people will call me a hater for saying that, but given the Mantle history, as well as the history of Chan Ho Park also grooving one to Cal Ripken, Jr. in Cal's last All-Star Game so he could have a home run, I wasn't the least bit surprised to hear that yes, Adam Wainwright did indeed give Jeter a big ol' cookie. After all, this was going to be Jeter's night, no matter what, from the Bob Sheppard introduction on. And a first-inning groundout just wouldn't do.

And well whaddaya know? My suspicions were right. During the game, Wainwright confirmed the cookie suspicions, telling a group of reporters the following thing:
"I was gonna give him a couple pipe shots. He deserved it," Wainwright said. "I didn't know he was gonna hit a double or I might have changed my mind."
So, the pitcher who shouldn't have been starting the game in the first place (Clayton Kershaw should have been the NL starter), but got the nod because his St. Louis Cardinals' manager, Mike Matheny, was the NL All-Star manager, grooves some "pipe shots" to Jeter, who, with his 2014 .647 OPS, was only in the game as a career honor, not for anything he actually did this season. And people call me cynical?

Of course, once word got out on what Wainwright did, he backtracked so fast there may have been skidmarks on the Target Field turf. So after Ken Rosenthal told All-Star viewers about the pipe shots, the FOX broadcast went into full damage control mode. Wainwright, with an assist from Erin Andrews, appeared on the broadcast, blamed social media for the brouhaha and claimed he was just joking. Oh, please. Nobody misquoted you, buddy, and social media had nothing to do with it. You said it, it got reported. Deal with it.

One of the more alarming things about this story was that fact that so many members of the media wanted Wainwright to have kept his mouth shut to keep up the illusion. The Newark Star-Ledger points out what some of them said on Twitter last night. Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News wrote: "Pretty classless move by Wainwright to say he was grooving pitches to Jeter. Either do it and keep quiet or don't do it at all." Eric Boland of Newsday wrote: "Don't know Wainwright's motivation in talking about grooving one to Jeter but doing ends up detracting from very moment he hoped to produce." And Kim Jones wrote "Dear Adam Wainwright: Pipe down."

Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain, folks, is what these media people, who should know better, seem to be saying. Gee, and here I thought reporters were supposed to, you know, actually report, and not be cheerleaders for a particular storyline. How embarrassing.

Look, either the All-Star Game counts or it doesn't. If the game doesn't count, then the likes of Wainwright can do all the WWE-type moves he wants to show "Re2pect." (And don't get me started on that self-aggrandizing and downright weird ad campaign -- why would Jeter, the guy who supposedly doesn't like all the attention, agree to have everybody kiss his tuchis in that ad?) But if it does count, and home field advantage in the World Series is riding on it, then Wainwright has to, you know, actually do his job and try to help his team win. If the Cardinals make it to the World Series again this year, I guess they can "thank" Wainwright for his gift basket to Jeter when they don't have home-field advantage.

I did like the tribute to Jeter during the game, not just the cheers before his first at-bat, but when he got taken out at shortstop and saluted the crowd and his fellow players. But most of the rest of the stuff in the coverage last night was over the top. Every single player was not interviewed on any achievement they might have, but how they related to Jeter. Even All-Star MVP Mike Trout only seems to matter because he can replace Jeter as the new "face of baseball." (And how much do you wanna bet that Jeter was all set to get that trophy until Wainwright opened his trap?)

It is more than a little sad to me that Jeter got such a gift -- back in the day, he wouldn't have needed such help. But the problem isn't that Wainwright admitted it. The problem is that he would do so in a game that is actually supposed to be real. And that too many people in the media are okay with such fakeness being used to prop up an illusion.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Met-Yankee comparisons at the All-Star break

Met shortstop Ruben Tejada has an OPS of .647. The Mets are looking to upgrade at the position.

Yankee shortstop Derek Jeter has an OPS of .647. Jeter is starting in the All-Star Game and batting leadoff.

The Mets have one All-Star - Daniel Murphy.

Excluding sentimental pick Jeter and injured Masahiro Tanaka, the Yankees have one All-Star - Dellin Betances - a middle reliever.

Curtis Granderson  is hitting .237 with 14 homers, 43 RBI, 46 runs, 7 steals and a .768 OPS. Granderson makes $15M per season.

Carlos Beltran is hitting .216 with 9 homers, 28 RBI, 22 runs, 1 steal and a .671 OPS.
Beltran makes $15M per season.

Bartolo Colon has eight wins and an ERA of 3.99.

In 2011 with the Yankees, Colon had eight wins with an ERA of 4.00.

Playing without Matt Harvey this season, the Mets are 45-50 with a winning percentage of .474.

In games not started by Tanaka, the Yankees are 34-42 with a winning percentage of .447.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Brian Cashman makes bizarre claim in Masahiro Tanaka's Tommy John story

Oh, great. One of the only reasons to have hope with the Yanks this year, Masahiro Tanaka, is injured with a small tear on his ulnar collateral ligament on his pitching elbow. And the three doctors he saw in Seattle yesterday all recommend rest and Platelet-Rich-Plasma injections -- a six-week plan that potentially could get him back on the mound in September, without Tommy John surgery.

But call me skeptical that this will work -- rest didn't work for Matt Harvey or most of the pitchers who ultimately needed Tommy John surgery. As ESPN's Wally Matthews points out, if Tanaka were to get the surgery now, he would be ready by next year's All-Star break. If he doesn't, he won't be back until 2016. As Matthews writes:
It's not my money, my player or my team, but if it was, I'd seek a fourth opinion on Tanaka's torn UCL, and then offer one of my own. Do the surgery now. Get it over with, get the rehab started, and get Tanaka back on the mound as quickly and as safely as possible.
I agree -- I think this is just prolonging the inevitable.

But Brian (Supergenius) Cashman contends that this program has worked for lots of Yankee pitchers, although he refused to name a single one, saying "I wouldn't say" who was able to stave off TJS by rest and rehab.

Brendan Kuty of NJ.com writes about Cashman's bizarre assertion:
But it might already be hard for fans to remain confident in Tanaka's plan. That's because neither Cashman nor Girardi offered examples of previous success stories. In Cashman's case, he didn't want to discuss them. "Some of which are pitching elsewhere," he said. "Some of which have pitched for us in the past and now retired. Some of which, you know, we have in the minors."
Okay, Brian. Name one! Is that too much to ask for? You would think that if multiple Yankees in the organization had been able to successfully rehab a torn UCL by rest and rehab, that Cashman would be pleased to reveal their names, especially given that the track record on this issue in MLB isn't good -- virtually everybody with a torn UCL ends up needing Tommy John surgery. Yes, Adam Wainwright was able to put off the surgery for a few years, but he still needed it.

Or maybe Cashman is, you know, full of it. Shocker.

And so much for that tough New York media. Kuty is the only one I could find who questioned Cashman's ridiculous claims. He writes regarding Cashman and Joe Girardi contending that this had worked for others (but Girardi, unlike Cashman, never contended they were people in the Yankee organization):
But the way showing your work earned you extra points on an elementary school mat test, dropping a few names might instill confidence in those paying for seats and beers and hot dogs at Yankee Stadium when they feel like their team's playoff hopes are hanging by a partially torn ligament.
Yeah, like that will ever happen. Cashman is the Teflon GM in this town, and the next time he is confronted on his nonsense by the NYC media will be the first time! No, we're just all supposed to believe his lies about all those successful Yankee pitchers who miraculously avoided Tommy John surgery by rest and rehab. Good grief.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Why have New York writers forgotten that Cliff Lee didn't want to be a Yankee in the first place?

When Cliff Lee rejected the Yankees' free agent contract offer in the winter of 2010, he was arguably the biggest high-profile free agent ever at that time to diss the Yankees. (Of course, this was three years before Robinson Cano packed his bags for Seattle!) If you may remember way back then, a whole 3 1/2 years ago, I wrote over and over that I was extremely skeptical he would be a Yankee. Once Kristen Lee, Cliff's wife, let it be known that she was unhappy about Yankee fans cursing, throwing beer at her and spitting on her in the 2010 ALCS, I figured there was pretty much no way he would sign with the Yankees. Remember, she said this about Yankeeland:
"The fans did not do good things in my heart," Kristen says.
"When people are staring at you, and saying horrible things, it's hard not to take it personal."
Then Lee even took less money to go back to Philadelphia, and also let it be known that 1) the Yankees were his last choice, after the Phillies and Rangers, 2) didn't even call Brian Cashman himself (he had his agent do it), while he personally called Jon Daniels to say no, and 3) said that the Phillies gave him the best chance to win,. All of these things made it abundantly clear exactly how he felt about the Bronx Bombers.

While I was shocked he went back to Philly, instead of staying in Texas, I wasn't the least bit surprised that he turned down the Yankees. And I was appalled at the spin from Yankeeland at the time trying to make Lee's rejection a good thing.  There were these anonymous, ridiculous quotes from Yankeeland:
"Obviously he wasn't all about the money, which is refreshing," said one of the sources. "He left a lot of it on the table."

"I think we should celebrate the fact that a guy took less money to go to a place he loves," the other said. "I honestly don't think he or his wife were afraid of New York, just that they enjoyed their experience in Philadelphia to such an extent that they would rather go there for a lot less money."
Yeah, right. As I wrote back then, there must be a pony in there somewhere!

Anyhow, let's fast-forward to 2014. As I was drinking my morning coffee just now, I saw that the New York Daily News' Mark Feinsand is the latest Yankee writer to propose that the Bombers trade for Cliff Lee. Feinsand writes this, in an article entitled "Brian Cashman must do what it takes to bring Cliff Lee to the Yankees":

If Lee proves to be healthy, wouldn’t he be the ideal candidate for the Yankees? Yes, he’s owed a ton of money over the next couple of years, but he likely won’t require the same type of package Samardzija commanded, making it far more realistic for the Yankees to go after Lee than, say, David Price.
He is not the only New York writer to propose this idea, but all of them seem to have something in common -- they have conveniently forgotten that Lee already turned down the Yankees in 2010. This isn't some obscure bit of trivia -- it was kind of a big deal at the time!
Aside from the fact that Lee is a soon-to-be 36-year-old, who is currently suffering elbow problems and is on the disabled list right now -- not exactly a sure thing -- these writers also don't even consider the fact that Lee's limited no-trade clause includes the Yanks. And that, again, he has made it clear that he hates the Yankees. And that if Lee is going to be traded, the Phillies are going to try to get the best prospects for him, something the Yanks do not have. And that Lee would want to go to a team that guarantees him another spot at postseason glory. With a .500 record at the moment, that sure isn't the Yankees!
There are literally 15 teams in baseball with a better record than the Yanks right now, but Lee is going to waive his no-trade clause for a team he spurned in the first place to put on pinstripes? C'mon now.  (I guess Feinsand maybe thinks Lee is "the ideal candidate for the Yankees" because he is old, injury-ridden, and makes a lot of money!)
The only way this could possibly happen would be for the Yankees to pay a big financial price in order to get Lee to be on the team, aside from the $25 million a year he is guaranteed for 2014 and 2015. The team will probably have to either agree to pick up the $27.5 million for 2016, or give him some sort of contract extension in order to get him to be a Yankee. And even then, I am very skeptical that this would happen.

Quite frankly, given the Yankees' shoddy lineup, coupled with the loss of CC Sabathia, perhaps they should be sellers, and not buyers, this season. But that is not likely in Yankeeland! Neither is Cliff Lee actually becoming a Yankee.

What do you think? Tell us about it!

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

$500M for a .500 record: The 2014 New York Yankees are not a good team

I haven't written much in this blog as of late, between having a lot going on in both my work life and in my personal life, and also recently having the summer cold that won't go away! But I feel compelled to say something about the state of the Yankees, after last night's debacle. Now, after roughly half the season is over, the $500 million Yankees have a .500 record. And they have lost four in a row, and eight of their last ten games. Good grief.

Granted, the AL East is filled with underachieving teams this year, so the Yankees are only 3.5 games out of first place. But shockingly, having an old team, with no Robinson Cano in the batting lineup, does not translate into success for the Yanks. Incidentally, Cano's Seattle Mariners are now 46-38, a record that would put them on top of the AL East. Oh, and Robbie is hitting .323, tied for third in the league. His .819 OPS is better than any Yankee player this year, and he has 48 RBI, more than any Yankee does. Still think the "Bombers" don't need him, Yankee fans?

And why is that there is talk that Sandy Alderson and Terry Collins will lose their jobs with the Mets, even though they not been given any real financial resources to work with, but nobody in Yankeeland ever loses their jobs -- or even faces columns in the media saying why it's time to pack their bags? No, Hal Steinbrenner is so afraid that somebody might compare him to his father that everybody gets to keep their jobs forever. And the so-called "tough" NYC media members are too dependent on access to Brian Cashman to ever suggest that maybe it's time for new blood in the GM office. (This is another reason I haven't written much lately -- how many times can I write that Cashman, Randy Levine et al need to go, and that Hal needs to either be a real leader or sell the team, before I become a Swanny one-note?)

Anyhow, the future looks bleak for the Yankees. I would like to see the team call up rookie second baseman Rob Refsnyder, but we'll probably be stuck with Brian Roberts in the role for the rest of the year. After all, Refsnyder is just 23 -- about a decade and a half too young to contend for this team!

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Squawker Media Alert: Lisa on radio at 3:30 p.m. today

Lisa will be squawking baseball with Mike Lindsley of Syracuse's The Score 1260 at 3:30 p.m. today, Thursday, June 19. If you are in the Syracuse area, you can listen to her on 1260 AM on the radio. If not, check out the station's web site and listen to her there. Thanks!

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Bleak night at Citi Field

I am used to hearing lots of fans cheering for the other team when it's the Subway Series, but at last night's Met game, it was the Dodgers that seemed to be getting bigger cheers than the Mets, at least where Squawker Lisa and I were sitting in field level down the left field line.

Perhaps it was because the last-place Mets, punchless at home, trailed almost the entire game. The Dodgers took the lead for good in the second inning, and though it was only 1-0 at the time, the only runs the Mets would score in the first eight innings would come on a two-run homer by Eric Campbell in the sixth, cutting the lead to 3-2. The Mets scored again in the ninth, but the Dodgers had tacked on an insurance run and the Mets lost, 4-3. No, it didn't help that the insurance run was able to score as a result of the Mets botching a potential double play.

In the middle of the game, a guy stood in the aisle trying to start a wave. I ignored him the couple of times, then did a half-hearted wave hoping he would move on. He was blocking my view of home plate! But the guy came back a couple more times to try to start more waves. Then I saw him further up the aisle, speaking with some stadium personnel.

The wave enthusiast was not dressed as a Mets employee, and for all I know, the employees were telling him to cool it. But when the only noise the sparse crowd is making is for the other team, it's not hard for me to believe that Met officials would try to find some way to get some more noise in the dead ballpark.

By the way, Campbell's shot was his first major-league homer. Four years ago, Lisa and I saw another Met first baseman wearing number 29 hit his first major-league homer. Ike Davis is now hitting .286 with two homers, 10 RBI, 13 runs and a .388 on-base percentage in 84 at-bats. Davis probably needed a new start somewhere else, but I don't think it's a coincidence that Sandy Alderson's performance has come under a lot more scrutiny since the Mets received little back in return for Davis.

Meanwhile, Stephen Drew just signed with the Red Sox for about $10 million. He may or may not be worth it, but now the Mets are supposedly looking at shortstop prospect Didi Gregorius. Will the Mets try to trade a top pitching prospect for a player who started for the D-Backs last year, but lost his job this spring and is now back in the minors?

At least Shake Shack is still going strong. Maybe the Mets should move Shake Shack to behind home plate, to make it look as if there are lots of enthusiastic people at the ballpark. 

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Squawker Media Alert: Lisa on radio at 5:30 p.m. today

Lisa will be squawking baseball with Mike Lindsley of Syracuse's The Score 1260 at 5:30 p.m. today, Tuesday, May 20. If you are in the Syracuse area, you can listen to her on 1260 AM on the radio. If not, check out the station's web site and listen to her there. Thanks!

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Subway Series:Zack and Shack

The Mets swept the Yankees in the Bronx and have now beaten the Bombers six straight. Squawker Lisa is so discombobulated she ended up with tickets to see Joe Torre's number get retired. But it's never a completely sunny day with the Mets. Zack Wheeler couldn't get out of the fifth inning with an 11-4 lead. And there are reports of food poisoning at one of the best things about Citi Field - Shake Shack.

The Mets' mantra has been, just wait until all the great young pitchers are up. Never mind that Matt Harvey is recovering from a serious arm injury, and even if most Tommy John patients recover successfully, they often don't fully regain their form right away. In eight starts this season, Wheeler now has a 4.53 ERA, 1.60 WHIP and 24 walks in 41 innings. While I'm looking forward to seeing Rafael Montero tonight and Noah Syndegaard next month, there are of course no guarantees with young pitching.

As for Shake Shack, I find it hard to believe that there could be an outbreak of food poisoning at such a popular place and that there would not be many more reports of people getting sick to their stomach. (Unless lots of people are getting sick to their stomach and assumed it's from watching the Mets.) Maybe if it were two people from the same team who may have shared an order, but not a Met (Lucas Duda) and Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg.

And now the Mets say that Duda got sick at another Shack Shake location outside Citi Field, which makes the whole story even more outlandish. Two different baseball people at two different Shake Shacks? Something about this story is not adding up for me.

Two of the main areas where the Mets are clearly superior to the Yankees are young pitching prospects and stadium food.  So I hope Montero does well tonight and thousands of fans continue to enjoy their Shackburgers. And that the Mets become the first team to beat Masahiro Tanaka.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Subway Series Game 1: Enough with the Met fans crowing and celebrating

Squawker Jon, I hope you haven't gotten carpal tunnel syndrome from writing two blog posts in a row. Funny how you have so much to say when it comes to the Subway Series, especially when your Mets won. Good thing you managed to roust yourself and write once in a while, or I would have to start calling you Subway Snoozer!

Anyhow, your brethren sounded very loud at Yankee Stadium last night, especially from the section that the 7 Line Army occupies. (And what's up with that, anyway -- how does Yankee Stadium allow literally an entire section to be sold to the opposition's fans? Can you imagine Fenway Park selling a section just to Yankee fans for them to make noise in? Are the Yankees that desperate to get fannies in the seats?)

On the other hand, my Yankee brethren sounded positively quiet when Curtis Granderson came up to the plate. Using their (dopey) logic that was exhibited with their shameful booing of Robinson Cano, the same people should have booed Granderson for not just going to the Mets and getting more money there, but for referring to Mets fans as "true New Yorkers." It just goes to show that the booing of Cano is really because Yankee fans wish he were still with the team. Speaking of Robbie Cano, don't you know, are you aware that the Mariners now have a better record than the Yankees?

An aside: I thought about signing your team's dumb petition on true New Yorkerdom so that if I won, I could show that I was a Yankee fan and mock you all. But I didn't want to take a chance of anybody thinking I was a Mets fan -- it would be like having cooties.

It struck me as strange, too, that I heard more cheers than boos in Yankee Stadium when Granderson hit a homer. (It did not strike me as strange, though, that John Sterling reportedly exclaimed "the Grandy Man can" when he hit the homer; Sterling loves his catchphrases!)

As for the flashbacks to the Castillo game, the Yankee radio pre-game featured both Sterling's "Oh Wow" call for that, as well as the call when Mariano Rivera got his 500th save (which was against the Mets, of course, at Citi Field.) And we were at both games! Two of my very favorite Yankee-watching moments. Are you still fuming, Jon?

How about that Kerosene Kyle? This is what happens when your team loses a gazillion dollars in a Ponzi scheme -- they have him as the closer. Even the Yankees never did that! Unfortunately for me, Farnsworth got out of the jam and got the save. But don't reward him by putting Farnsworth back on your fantasy team, Jon!

And yes, the Yankees have a lot of injuries, but 1) that is not an excuse, and 2) that is what happens when you sign old, injury-prone players -- they get injured! 

I will give your Mets credit for one thing -- their contrasting brims (the orange with the blue hat) look a heck of a lot better than the white brims on the Yankees caps! Good grief.