Tagged: baseball players

It’s Sad for Us, But It Could Be Worse for Miggy

Miguel Cairo, who was released last week to make room for the newbies, has been picked up by the Cardinals.  He is reporting to AAA Memphis, according to Sports Illustrated

We will miss him.  This may come back to bite us, too.  A more loyal, willing player does not exist.  Bad karma. 

Miggy, I am sorry.  At least you are on a good team.  Did you like them the first time ’round?

Mr. Cashman, Tell Me You Have a Plan

Let me get this straight: 

  • The Yankees just traded reliever Scott Proctor for part-time Dodger infielder Wilson Betemit
  • Meanwhile, the Red Sox just obtained Eric Gagne (2.16, 17 of 18 saves) from the Rangers, despite having a killer closer in John Papelbon (2.15, 23 of 25 saves). 

Am I missing something?

  • CONSENSUS  There was one, right?  Yankees need bullpen pitching BADLY.  NOT batters.
  • A BAT FOR THE BENCH?  Let’s look at our oft-maligned bench.
    • Anchored by the mending Johnny Damon (.247), replaced in center by Melky Cabrera, who has improved  to .291 from April’s .200, hitting .373 in July as an every day player
    • Enriched, we hope, by the upcoming return of refurbished slugger Jason Giambi
    • Ignited by Make-It-Happen Miguel Cairo ("the best .239 player in baseball," John Sterling reminds us.), a defensive star and utility player who has hit .255 overall but much higher during periods of everyday play covering first base while the injured Giambi’s replacement Doug Mankiewitcz was on the DL, and until farmhand Andy Phillips was appointed permanent substitute.  If that sounds like teaching in NYC, where teachers who have more than paid their dues after a decade or two in the system are being forced into substitution while youngsters take over the classrooms, you’re right.
    • No offense to Betemit (.231), but, … well, do we need him more than we need Proctor?  And isn’t the point that we needed to ADD to our bullpen?
  • BULLPEN –  Yankees just traded their righty reliever Scott Proctor (3.81 ERA) Why?
    • True, he hit a wall in June when he averaged 5.17 runs.   But his July ERA is 2.84!
    • He has pitched in 52 games.  Last year he entered 89 and ended the season at 3.52.
    • Consensus is that manager Joe Torre overused him last year.  Umm.  Would you say he was ON PACE to burnout again this year?  Remember the uniform-burning ritual?
    • Why are so many Torre Dynasty relievers in the running for most innings pitched?
    • Does Torre have a pattern of overusing a reliever as his trusted go-to guy?  Hmm.
      • Lefty Ron Villone was so wiped out last year that his arm was dead by  postseason.  To recognize his contributions, the Yanks started him in the minors this season.  Today his ERA is 3.12 after 23 games.  He ended last year with a 5.04 ERA after 80 games.  Looks like Torre might have learned something here. 
      • Is Mike Myers the new trusted lefty?  Uh-oh.  2.61 after 50 innings.  Already!
      • Wherever and however he pitches, the one comment you can count on hearing about Mike Stanton is that he’s on the list of the hardest-working lefty relievers in baseball.  He pitched in over 70 games for over half of 6 years with the Yankees (over 60 for the other 3).  As a Met, he reached his pinnacle of 83 games in 2004, and still managed to keep his ERA at 3.16.   Did Torre start him on this path?  At this point, I get the feeling that he he keeps going in order to see how many innings his career can survive.
      • Remember righty Paul Quantrill in 2004?  Get ready:  86 games, 95.1 innings.  Remember him burning out his arm? 
      • You get the idea.  And don’t forget the great relievers they let go.  Remember the Stanton – Mendoza combo?  I’m still smarting from that one.

So, Mr. Cashman-  Would you mind ADDING to our bullpen rather than taking away from it?  Between you and Mr. Torre, we’re losing our relievers faster than we can win our games.

There’s ANOTHER Catching Molina Brother?

His name is Gustavo Molina, and he’s headed for a "career year," according to SLAM Sports.  He was just claimed off waivers from the Right Sox (meaning CWS, of course) by the Orioles.

Hey, no competition intended, but have you seen Slam’s Live Scoreboard?  The log is great.

Check out their Player Movements page if you have time.  It covers trades, injuries, designation,….

Injuries, Signings, and arbitration results are broken down on their own pages as well.

Manager Movements is handy if you want to make sure you’re up-to-date.

Pretty useful stuff.  These guys are CanadianAnd I haven’t even mentioned Canadian baseball.



 

 

At Least It’s the Right Sox Tonight

Wow. What a Weekend. Well, at least it’s the Right Sox tonight. A breather, even if they do win, which is how it’s looking right now. Roger the Rocket looked pretty fat at Pinstripes on the Park last Thursday. Hate to but I must tell you that the audience — just like at the Stadium the Saturday prior — was definitely not swayed by his charms or promise. His promises, on the other hand, were inspiring. He said we’d take the Series this weekend, and we did. We could use a cheerleader from Texas. One who’s on OUR payroll.

I hear from Floraine Kay that we might take Runyldys Hernandez off the hands of the Red Sox. We might have saved some money and the risk of a double agent (ala Ramiro Mendoza working for us in in their clubhouse in 2003 — and then back with us in the minors last year — where is he now?) had someone LISTENED TO ME and bought him straight from Kansas City. It’s hardly a secret that I have a soft spot for oversized lefties like David Wells (San Diego — HELLO, anybody LISTENING?), CC Sabathia (Cleveland), and, yes, Runyldys, who definitely needed some guidance while he was with the Royals. It will be interesting to see where he is.

So we need a fielder who doesn’t have to hit, eh? Um, anybody look at our bench? MIGUEL CAIRO? And, does anyone remember that he makes things happen? Why hasn’t he been working? He worked in April during some shortages, then NOTHING. Even a DH needs SOME time on the field, and he is a good fielder when he gets a chance to play.

Besides Miggy, there’s Super Joe McEwing, former Met, beloved by fans in Kansas City, and now somewhere else, I will have to check. I loved watching him field. Like David Dellucci as a Yankee, Super Joe was everywhere before you knew where to look. Then, there’s Jeff Keppinger, another former Met, though he may have found a home, as I know Ty Wigginton has as a Devil Ray. Wiggington is a bat more than a fielder, anyway. I’ll always remember the story Floraine told me about how, when he was playing 3rd base for the Mets, knowing he was prone to errors, he wrote E-5 on the inside of his visor.

More on umpires, especially regarding this last weekend, to come.

Keep an Eye on Cairo

Link: Scout has eye on Cairo for Indians

Roger Brown of the Cleveland Plain Dealer notes that a "prominent National League Scout" has ranked our Miguel Cairo toward the top of his list of 2nd-tier 2nd basemen.  (Does working part-time default a player to 2nd-tier?  It should justify any low numbers)  Thank you for calling attention to him, Mr. Prominent Scout, though I am sure you meant this as a recommendation for an Indians’ pick-up  (…though I thought you were a National League scout.)  It’s a heads-up for us. When the Yankees’ front office evaluates our roster over this winter, I hope everyone remembers Cairo as our turnkey 2nd baseman and utility player, especially when we were trying to scratch our way out of 2nd place and then to secure 1st. 

Forget postseason for a minute.  I think that was the most critical period for the Yankees this year.  Without Cairo, I am not sure how the period would have played out.  Who was on the team?  Can YOU name them?  Exactly my point.  Cairo went from DH to 2nd base when Cano got hurt (hamstring), and minor leaguers and trades covered all the other positions, except for Shortstop (Jeter–great year), Catcher (Posada–great year) and a few Pitchers. How does a team win with players you have never practiced with, who change often daiy?  (Torre–manager–great year)  The substitute players kept changing, but not Cairo. 

Cairo makes things happen offensively in the least promising of circumstances.  Make-It-Happen-Miggy could well be his nickname.  He hits, bunts, steals aggressively, all in the CLUTCH.  In fact, his numbers are better under clutch conditions.  In 2006, this is how his average broke down:

  • season-  .239
  • bases empty-  .197 
  • runners on base-  .286
  • runners in scoring position (risp)-  .328
  • bases loaded-  .375
  • In OCTOBER-  .500
    • Inexplicably, Cairo was given only 2 at-bats in the post-season.

This man could light a fire rubbing two soaked twigs against each other in the rain.  Why we didn’t let him ignite the playoff squad against the Tigers is not the topic for this piece.  At least we didn’t lose him with the Series.  I HOPE we don’t lose him with the Series.

I paraphrase WCBS announcer John Sterling: 

He’s the best .239 hitter you”ll ever see.

Stay, Miggy, Stay!   Let Cairo Stay!  Please!

My Hometown Hero: SHAWN CHACON

Wed., July 26, 2006:     Yankees 8     @     Rangers 7         

W – S. Chacon (5-3, 6.56)          L – A. Otsuka (2-4, 2.30)          S – M. Rivera (25)

I credit Mark Feinsand for choosing to center his article about this game around Shawn Chacon, who receives so little press, and whom the Yankees are reportedly — and, if true, regrettably — trying to trade.  Quotations by players and Joe Torre are from Mr. Feinsand’s 7.27.06 article on MLB.com.

Someone get Shawn Chacon a BROOM!  He swept those pesky Texans out of the way when no one else could.  He re-ignited the GAME!   Torre’s trusted team of relievers had just let the helium out of a heady homerun comeback by a headline-worthy "A-Bomb, from A-Rod," as John Sterling of WCBS never more aptly called the __ inning homerun by the slumping and much-maligned Alexander Rodriguez in the very ballpark he had abandoned 2 seasons ago for Yankee Stadium and the team everybody loves to hate.  And it wasn’t just the A-Rod run….

It was the 8th, and we had been unable to score since the 1st, when Andy Phillips had singled-in Jeter and A-Rod. Despite reaching base 5 times that first inning, we paralyzed, Texas caught up then broke a tie to lead 4-2 in the 4th.  Since that, nothing.  Just that flat "When does Sheffield come back again" or "Gee, doesn’t Giambi look a little heavy and red about the eyes" kind of feeling. Not good. 

So, nothing since the 1st and it’s the 8th and we’re down by 2.  The man Marc Marc has called K-Rod and the master of the rally-killing homerun STARTS A RALLY.  Well, first, he stepped to the plate and the earth shifted on its axis for a moment, from all those rolled eyes, you understand. 

Chacon’s win in relief yesterday made tremendous, visceral sense of how a few tosses can constitute a genuinely meaningful "W" by virtue of turning the tide of a game.  Here is A-Rod’s explanation of what Chacon did for the Yankees last night:  "After Chacon got the double play, I had a good feeling.  We were deflated, but we got some momentum back. When they didn’t score, we felt this was our game."

Even Torre gave it to him:  "[Chacon] came in and was totally lights-out. He kept us in a position to do what we did. He’s the player of the game for me."

Before burying the point in what typically reads like shy self-effacement out of respect for what other players can do, even Chacon himself allowed himself to acknowledge the transformative power of his 3 8th inning outs:  "After getting out of that jam, someone made a comment that we were going to win this game. It just felt like we were. They could have blown it open and they didn’t, and it wasn’t a game that was ever out of either team’s reach."

Chacon Finally Gets To Show His Stuff (Again)

After a few strong starts, Jaret Wright had some trouble in Toronto today, giving Shawn Chacon an opportunity to remind the faint of memory among us why the rest of us are so glad we still have him.  Do I think he is more starter than reliever?  Yes.  Do I think Joe Torre’s ulcer winces in anticipation of each batter Chacon might walk?  (3 today)  Yes.  Do I think Torre will hold onto him?  I do not know.  Chacon

Meanwhile, my Chacon t-shirt is on order. 

Yankees or Trachsel, Yankees or Trachsel, Yankees, buy Trachsel?! Please!

It was hard to know whom to root for in this afternoon’s Game 2 of the second Subway Series of 2006.  On the one hand, the Yankees needed the win, and I am a Yankee fan.  Should be cut and dried, right?  The Mets did not need the win.  Even simpler.  But Steve Trachsel was pitching for the Mets against Randy Johnson and the Empire. 

Forget the typical pleas for the so-called underdog.  Please.  The Yankees represent, among many things, my willing concession to the intertwining of power, money, and success.  (I was recently gratified to find a similar sentiment expressed on the webpage of a politician I liked.  I’ll have to look up his name.)

I started following Trachsel when he became a Met in 2001, as soon as Floraine Kay suggested that I keep an eye on him.  She has a good eye.  (Check out her Saddleshoe blog, linked to the right on my Blogroll.)  Year after year, he threw pretty good games only to lose them either because the Mets’ line-up was on strike, or because the fielding behind him was anemic.  Factoring in The Great Unravelling that followed the 2000 World Series, Trachsel — who already felt betrayed by the Cubs for letting him go to begin with (he split 2000 between Tampa Bay and Toronto) — walked into a clubhouse that was infected from top to bottom with mindgames, machinations, and backroom deals.  What I remember is that the callers to the Joe Benigno WFAN show, which was on late nights back then, could say nothing good about this man.  Sell him, get rid of him, he stinks, and much more colorful, less creative suggestions were made, and he wasn’t even bad.  Good?  No.  But neither were the Mets as a whole.  I’m not sure what they hit behind him that year, but he was 3rd in winning percentage among the 4 pitchers who earned decisions in 20 or more games (also Leiter, Appier, Rusch).  From last in ERA in his first year with the Mets, he went to first in 2002, with 3.37, beating even Leiter who had 3.48.  He and Leiter both posted .500 seasons, not bad in a season when the Mets won less than 47% of the time and had the worst fielding percentage as well as the highest number of errors commited in baseball. 

Circling back to yesterday’s post, 2002 was when I first grew suspicious of some of those who call themselves "diehard Met fans" because they truly sound as if they hate the Mets.  I may boo less than the average fan, but I can identify a [self] hater when I hear one.  They are still calling-in to WFAN with the most insulting commentary on one of their steadiest pitchers, who never let himself get embroiled in the soap operas, even during the most turbulent years. 

So, am I glad Trachsel won, holding the Yankees to 2 in front of Brian Cashman and George Steinbrenner for over 6 innings?  YES.  Did I hope the Mets’ bullpen would give up the game?  YES.  (In light of a post earlier this week, I must confess that I share in some guilt:  As soon as A-Rod hit his 25th home run off Aaron Heilman in the 8th, I knew any hope of a comeback was futile.  Is that backward logic, or what!)

 

I am, by the way, worried about Trachsel’s health.  Willie Randolph saw something and pulled him immediately in the 7th.  It turns out that his groin tightened after a fielding play, having aggravated an injury that has nagged at him for a couple weeks now, according to Marty Noble, the MLB.com Mets correspondent (Another article, with more detail about the injury, is here.) 

A-Rod Haters from Shea

OK, you A-Rod haters, remember where you were when the symbol of Yankee excess finally hit in the clutch and won a game, in dramatic fashion, at that.  Starting June 28, 2006, you will have to find a different player to boo with such vehemence.  I suspect most of you are Mets fans anyway.  You just don’t know what to do with yourselves now that the Mets are doing so well, do you? 

I mean no offense to fans of the Mets who genuinely feel for their team.  In fact, I consider myself a fan of the Mets, and after a game at Shea, I frequently end up arguing with a "Met fan" on the 7 all the way back to Manhattan, defending the hometeam we just saw.  Seems like the only team they hate more than their own is the Yankees.

I think there is a group of A-Rod haters from Shea. who comprise a sub-species of fan, an alleged "diehard Mets fan."  As soon as Piazza went to the Padres and Beltran started hitting, they panicked, dove into the river, and started swimming uptown.  By the time they got to The Bronx, poisoned  by the chemicals and whateverelse they took in as they swam, A-Rod was too easy a shot to miss.

It’s not that the rest of us didn’t have anything to say about A-rod, by the way.  I have revelled in the titles that Marc Marc has bestowed upon him, such as K-rod and E-rod.  I am among the many who have chosen A-Rod’s 2-out at-bats to start for the concession stands.  (We didn’t miss anything, did we, fellow comrades-in-line?   Except those of us whose hubris tempted our attention away from the field on the 28th….)   I shouldn’t be upset that he watched his winning homerun sail out of the park before running to first, right?   He knew it was going.  He needed to know.  It won’t happen again.  He’s no Soriano.  Right?

If you must convince someone else or simply remind yourself that it is true, that A-rod won a Yankee game with a walk-off homerun, enjoy this video highlight from MLB.com, featuring Michael Kay’s famous "See ya!" to the homerun gone.  Link: New York Yankees : Video : Yankees Top Plays Archive.

Cubs get “W” !

The Cubs finally got a W, and that is no mere abbreviation. 

Kerry WOOD          1 ER of 2 allowed in 6 innings, 1 RBI single, W

Tony WOMACK      fresh from the Reds: 2 hits + spirit & speed

Todd WALKER        covering 1B for Derrek Lee: 2 runs, 3 RBI, 1 X-Ray

Kerry Wood is the unreasonable force that convinces the Cubs to play like they have a chance at winning, and he has returned to the rotation just in time after arthroscopic shoulder surgery.  The slump was starting to feel heavy and fated.  As Yankees announcer John Sterling said, as soon as the GM starts telling the press that the manager’s job is not in danger, we know it is in danger, and Jim Hendry had just reassured us all that Dusty Baker was not at risk of being fired.  Right.

But the kid came back, riding on his proverbial high horse and led them into a winning battle against Cincinnati.  No chuckles now.  They’re slipping a bit at the moment, but the Reds’ renaissance is second in popular shock value only to the #1 Tigers’,  and this week Detroit is set to be christened "for real."

So, Reds or Diamondbacks, it did not matter.  Wood not only pitched 6 earning only 1 out of 2 allowed runs, but — always a decent hitter — he put wood on an RBI single to help the cause.  Ardsma held the Reds to 3.  Scott Eyre let 1 run in.  Closer Ryan Dempster climbed out of Consecutive Blown Save Purgatory to shut down any doubters. 

We Got Wood!