Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Matsuzaka Posted!

From FoxSports:

The Seibu Lions said Matsuzaka's rights will be "posted," meaning that all 30 major league teams can bid on the 26-year-old right-hander. The team with the highest bid gains the right to attempt to sign the pitcher.

The Lions reportedly plan to seek $30 million from a major league team just for rights to negotiate with Matsuzaka. That's not including the $13-15 million annual salary he'll likely earn.


Translation: If we don't get $30 million, we pull back the posting and he plays another year. It's obviously a price-inflating ploy. If Seibu doesn't accept a top bid of, say, $25 million, they can pull Matsuzaka back, but I don't see them taking that path. He becomes a free agent following 2007, at which time the Lions would receive no compensation for his departure. And something tells me that the extra revenue he draws minus his salary is over $25 million (for clarification, since I suck at verbalizing math: Total Revenue Solely Generated by Matsuzaka - Matsuzaka's Salary ≠ $25 million).

Then again, a $30 million bid may be required to top the field. Based on nothing but anecdotes I've read over the past two months, no team plans to bid that $30 million. The Red Sox may go between $20 and $25 mil just to compete with the Yanks. But I think that if Cashman plops down $30 mil, Matsuzaka will be wearing pinstripes in 2007.

Monday, October 30, 2006

So Just Chill, 'Till the Next Episode

As you've been able to glean over the past month and a half, the new job has taken a considerable amount of my writing time. I have ideas ready to put into column form, but it's difficult to sit in front of a computer for 10 hours a day, and then go home to spend more hours with one. I'm acclimating myself well, though, and should have more time to write in the coming weeks.

Going through a similar situation is Benjamin Kabak of Off the Facade. He's a fine writer, and is hampered by a busy schedule with a new job. We've been familiar with one another's situation for quite some time, and are now prepared to do something about it.

Yes, I'm joining Ben at Off the Facade, where we hope that by combining our limited schedules, we can still provide the very best in Yankees coverage.

However, this in no way is the demise of the Sporting Brews. The decision to join Ben was largely influenced by the time of year: I may not have come to the same decision had this been in April. For now, though, I'll be writing and promoting myself at OtF, while simulcasting my material here. I'll also try for a Friday roundup of significant Yankees storylines.

But, for now, Off the Facade

Friday, October 27, 2006

Why Am I Routing For the Cardinals?

I hate Preston Wilson: he's not good at baseball.
I hate Juan Encarnacion: he's inconsistent and also not very good at baseball.
I hate David Eckstein: the media paints him a darling when he's just an average player.
I hate Jeff Weaver: you all know why.
I hate Ronnie Belliard: that he lets his tongue flap in the wind while batting makes me want to take hedge clippers to it.
I hate Scott Spiezio: hey, I dyed my goatee, too...when I was 17 years old. You're 34, therefore ridiculous.

Despite these despicable characters, I sit in front of my TV every night and cheer when they succeed. I get especially heated when Pujols, Rolen, Edmonds, Molina, or Miles comes to the plate. And I get really amped up when Chris Carpenter takes the mound.

The only question that remains: do I go get a Cardinals shirt to wear to the bar tonight? I'm vehemently against sports polygamy, but I'm just so excited about the prospect of the World Series ending tonight at the new Busch Stadium.

Many people call this Tigers team "likeable," but I just don't see that. Yes, I like Bondo and Verlander because they're young and exciting pitchers; same goes for Zumaya and, to an extent, Fernando Rodney. But what about the rest of the team?

Pudge: notice how he's not so pudgy or muscular anymore. Also notice when this transformation occurred and what rule began being enforced. Hmmm...
Casey: he used to be good, and he has come through big in the playoffs. I'm indifferent, leaning towards "don't like."
Polanco: loved him because he helped my fantasy team; hate him because he forced me to piecemeal an infield for the last month and a half of the season.
Guillen: he's quite good, so I can't hate him. But I don't like him by any means. Hideously indifferent
Inge: other than his 27 homers, he's not that good.
Monroe: I guess I kind of like him because he was a platooning God on my team in MVP Baseball 2004.
Granderson: young, slick leadoff hitter. Leaning towards liking him.
Magglio: fuckin jerk.
Thames: it's tough to like former Yankees who weren't with the big league team for any significant time.
Rogers: you know.
Robertson: $50 says his ERA clocks in at over 4.20 next year.

Why Am I Routing For the Cardinals?

I hate Preston Wilson: he's not good at baseball.
I hate Juan Encarnacion: he's inconsistent and also not very good at baseball.
I hate David Eckstein: the media paints him a darling when he's just an average player.
I hate Jeff Weaver: you all know why.
I hate Ronnie Belliard: that he lets his tongue flap in the wind while batting makes me want to take hedge clippers to it.
I hate Scott Spiezio: hey, I dyed my goatee, too...when I was 17 years old. You're 34, therefore ridiculous.

Despite these despicable characters, I sit in front of my TV every night and cheer when they succeed. I get especially heated when Pujols, Rolen, Edmonds, Molina, or Miles comes to the plate. And I get really amped up when Chris Carpenter takes the mound.

The only question that remains: do I go get a Cardinals shirt to wear to the bar tonight? I'm vehemently against sports polygamy, but I'm just so excited about the prospect of the World Series ending tonight at the new Busch Stadium.

Many people call this Tigers team "likeable," but I just don't see that. Yes, I like Bondo and Verlander because they're young and exciting pitchers; same goes for Zumaya and, to an extent, Fernando Rodney. But what about the rest of the team?

Pudge: notice how he's not so pudgy or muscular anymore. Also notice when this transformation occurred and what rule began being enforced. Hmmm...
Casey: he used to be good, and he has come through big in the playoffs. I'm indifferent, leaning towards "don't like."
Polanco: loved him because he helped my fantasy team; hate him because he forced me to piecemeal an infield for the last month and a half of the season.
Guillen: he's quite good, so I can't hate him. But I don't like him by any means. Hideously indifferent
Inge: other than his 27 homers, he's not that good.
Monroe: I guess I kind of like him because he was a platooning God on my team in MVP Baseball 2004.
Granderson: young, slick leadoff hitter. Leaning towards liking him.
Magglio: fuckin jerk.
Thames: it's tough to like former Yankees who weren't with the big league team for any significant time.
Rogers: you know.
Robertson: $50 says his ERA clocks in at over 4.20 next year.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Where do Honeydews Go For the Summer?

John Cougar Mellencamp! Badum-CHING!

I contend that his appearance before Game Two last night was the most uninteresting moment in World Series history. Who cares about John Mellencamp, anyway? Yeah, he had some hit songs back in the day, but the more I listen to them, the more boring they are. He's on my iPod, and I can't remember a time in the last year when I haven't immediately hit "next song" when he came up on Random.

But what was the point? No one wanted to hear his crappy song; we hear it two dozen times every Sunday during football. Not to mention, it's a shitty song. It's generic, contrived, and a last-ditch effort to make some money before everyone realizes he's completely washed up. Plus, didn't he cover that base with "Ain't That America"?

So John tops the "Fuck you" list of Game Two. The rest:

Kenny Rogers: Of course he's up there. I still want to see him start on the road, but that's not going to happen.
Jeff Weaver: For looking like the Weaver of old after looking like his younger self in the Mets series.
Albert Pujols: Dude, we're depending on you for the upset of the year. You're killin' us here.

Friday, October 20, 2006

I Swear, I'm Not Dead

Long week at work this week (55 hours, plus an hour and 15 minute commute each way), so that's the reason I haven't moved to the off-season landscape.

I'll have something on Monday. Promise.

Monday, October 16, 2006

State of the Yankees

The past week has been filled with various (mostly retarded) off-season plans that will (supposedly) enable the team to get over the LDS hump and return to glory. However, there is no surefire off-season plan that will right the Yankees ship; there are simply too many obstacles in the way to makeover the team in one off-season. So instead of writing a fantasy column spewing unreasonable ideas (i.e., the departure of Jason Giambi—sorry, there’s just no justifiable way to make that happen), this will be a series of logical maneuvers that would indicate a new direction. It’s obviously not the only solution, nor is it a certainty to work. But it will fall within the realm of possibility. And no, it won’t involve overpaying for the top veteran free agents.

Before I broach the subject of transactions, the State of the Yankees must be addressed. Not only will it give an idea of where the team stands heading into the off-season, but it will help make clearer the areas in which they can change. And honestly, if there’s an area where change is possible, it probably should be enacted; they didn’t drop right out of the playoffs without reason.

Seven of the eight position players are playing with multi-year contracts, and of those at least six will be back next year: Jorge Poasda, Jason Giambi, Derek Jeter, Hideki Matsui, Johnny Damon, and Bobby Abreu. There is either no reason to move these guys (Matsui, Damon, Jeter, Posada) or they are unmovable (Giambi, Abreu [no trade clause]). In addition, Robinson Cano will remain property of the Yankees, guaranteed to be back for at least c.$400k. However, the Yanks should try to lock him down through his arbitration years; allowing the 23-year-old who finished third in the AL batting race to go to arbitration next year would be rather foolish.

This leaves little flexibility in the starting nine. One area in which the Yankees can bend is first base/DH. Giambi can be moved to permanent DH, both for defensive and health reasons, which allows the Yanks to slide a new body onto the first base bag—and Andy Phillips is not the answer. Hindering their flexibility, however, is the lefty situation. Of the seven players mentioned above, five are lefties and one is a switch, leaving Jeter as the lone righty. The problem therein is transparent: Derek Jeter will not suffice as the lineup’s power righty.

Alex Rodriguez was left off the certain-to-come-back list because of the probability that Cashman is listening to offers. This isn’t to say that he’s on his way out the door, but if we’re focusing on roster flexibility, he’s the most expendable. He is a great player, better—in theory—than anyone on the list of returning players is, but he’s the only commodity that will yield a return of starting pitching. Then again, as we can see, they’d need another righty with some pop to replace him. One look at the third base market shows that the team isn’t likely to find that in the vacated position. This is why the A-Rod conundrum needs its own column.

People talk about the team’s chemistry and how it dwindled over the season’s final month, spurred by the returns of Hideki Matsui and Gary Sheffield. While those two heavy hitters may have altered the shape of the team, the chemistry banter is nonsense. If you want to pin the blame on those two, you can point to the flexibility issues they created (and that I noted above). In addition to flexibility, the other main issue hindering the 2006 Yankees was the pitching staff. It is exceedingly difficult to win a playoff series with just one reliable pitcher (not to say that it can’t be done).

Only a few of the Yanks pitchers are guaranteed contracts for next season: Randy Johnson, Carl Pavano, Mariano Rivera, Mike Myers, and Kyle Farnsworth. However, there are an additional few that are property of the Yankees due to lack of service time: Chien-Ming Wang, Darrell Rasner, Jeff Karstens, Scott Proctor (likely arbitration-eligible), and Sean Henn—not to mention the guys on the brink in the minors. The positive spin to the few returning arms is that the Yankees can begin their pitching overhaul. The negative is that these guys would not comprise an intimidating pitching staff.

Before I begin to address the issues at hand, here is a breakdown of where each 2006 Yankee stands:

Contractual obligations
CJorge Posada$12m
1BJason Giambi$21m
2BRobinson Cano$400K
3BAlex Rodriguez$16m
SSDerek Jeter$20m
LFHideki Matsui$13m
CFJohnny Damon$13m
RFBobby Abreu$16m


SPRandy Johnson$16m
SPCarl Pavano$10m
RPMariano Rivera$10.5m
RPKyle Farnsworth$5.25m
RPMike Myers$1.25m


Team Options (buyout in parenthesis)
Jaret Wright—$7m ($4m)
Gary Sheffield—$13m ($0)
Mike Mussina—$17m ($1.5m)

Arbitration EligibleThree full years MLB service
Sal Fasano
Aaron Guiel (not quite sure, but he’ll be close)

Protected PlayersLess than three years MLB service
Robinson Cano (he won’t have two full years service time, so it’s unlikely he’ll be a “Super Two,” therefore ineligible for arbitration)
Chien-Ming Wang (same deal as Cano)
Scott Proctor (probable Super Two)
Nick Green
Andy Phillips
Wil Nieves
T.J. Beam
Brian Bruney
Melky Cabrera
Sean Henn
Jeff Karstens
Darrell Rasner
Kevin Reese
Kevin Thompson
Jose Veras

Unrestricted Free Agents
Octavio Dotel
Tanyon Sturtze
Ron Villone
Bernie Williams
Miguel Cairo
Craig Wilson

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Don't Fire This Man

Since no soul lacks an opinion on this matter, I’ll keep it succinct: the Yankees would be remiss to fire Joe Torre as manager. I spent the entire day yesterday trawling through various views on the subject, and after all the, “if he got all the credit, he deserves all the blame,” and, “he makes terrible managerial decisions like his bullpen usage and batting A-Rod 8th” arguments, I’ve realized that one point is absent. Who would manage the team?

The mainstream media wants you to believe Lou Piniella is the man for the job, but I don’t see how this would work at all. He knows plenty of baseball and has had success as a manger, but does anyone honestly thing he’s better than Joe Torre is? Other than A-Rod, who would welcome Lou with open arms? How would he get through to all of the egos in the clubhouse, before the start of the season? Remember that this isn’t Little League, where tossing a chair will get you the team’s attention. Lou would have to enter a clubhouse filled with egos the likes of which he’s never seen, and I don’t think he’d be able to handle the situation.

In fact, I don’t think many, if any, managers could handle that kind of situation. Except, of course, for Joe Torre. Not only would a newcomer need to learn the team and earn their respect, but he’d also have to learn the ropes of the New York media, which would be frenzied upon his hiring. Maybe Joe Girardi could fill these shoes, but it would be tough even for him. And much as I admire Don Mattingly, this wouldn’t be the proper circumstance for his promotion.

This all leads back to one point: why fire him with just one year left on his deal? It’s not like the base of this organization is going to change. Cashman will still be the GM, Jeter will still be the Captain, and for the most part, due to contractual obligations, most of the team will remain the same over the off-season. What’s the harm in allowing Torre to finish out his contract and work with these players who are so familiar to him? Or, more accurately, does Steinbrenner honestly think that a new manager will be the solution to his team’s (relative) woes?

The best solution, as I see it, is to allow Torre to manage in 2007 and hand the reins to Mattingly in 2008. I sense some more roster shaking this off-season, but not enough to really makeover the team. In 2008, however, there should be plenty of new faces in the crowd, the proud result of Damon Oppenheimer’s scouting regime. That is when you’ll begin seeing the guys currently playing in Trenton, Tampa, Charleston, and Staten Island. And, since there should be an influx of talent from the minor leagues, why not promote the manager from within as well?

Most of all, I don’t think Steinbrenner truly wants to fire Torre. It was a knee-jerk reaction perpetuated by the New York media for lack of anything better to write. Yeah, there was the whole A-Rod story, but after Games One through Three, there was little left to say on the matter. The whole team stunk (apologies to Jeter, Matsui, and Posada) in the final two games, and it’s tough to lay blame on nine All-Stars. So the next natural step is the manager, and look, Torre’s been at the helm far longer than any manager has in the Steinbrenner era. The Boss had a bout with his old self after the game, ready to fire Torre on the spot. Of course, logic, reason, and old age kicked in later on, and I’m sure George realizes that firing Torre accomplishes absolutely nothing.

It would be far more productive to simply bring on a bench coach who is strategically savvy. Forget Lee Mazilli, who ostensibly did very little this season (you heard praise heaped on the entire coaching staff, but not a word on Maz). Find Torre a recently retired catcher to sit next to him on the bench, and I think you’ve found a much better solution than firing the man.

It’s easy to make someone the scapegoat. The loss wasn’t Torre’s fault, but as they say, you can’t fire the players. Let’s hope Steinbrenner decides not to taint Torre’s legacy with an unnecessary firing. There are, after all, plenty of more important issues at hand.

It's just a report, but the word on the street now is that Torre will keep his job. I'll wait for his press conference at 1 p.m. to see if how he addresses the issue.

Final Update: He stays. I am happy.