"A New York Treasure" --Village Voice

Monthly Archives: March 2003

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JUST WRITING MY NAME

JUST WRITING MY NAME AND GRAFFITI ON THE WALL

Sterling Hitchcock, who is being showcased by Yankees this spring, pitched against the Phillies yesterday for what he said was more scouts and writers than fans.


“I think there’s less writing on the wall in Harlem right now than the chance of me getting to pitch in New York. That’s the main thing: it’s been too long since I’ve been out there competing to not want to go back and pitch every fifth day.”

It isn’t a matter of if Hitchcock will be traded, but when.


Hitchcock’s agent, Tommy Tanzer, is confident the Yankees will make another good deal.

“If he does half as good a job trading Sterling as he did trading Rondell White, it’s pretty special,” Tanzer said, referring to General Manager Brian Cashman. “He has several choices. The Rondell trade tells me he’s either going to get value or he’s not going to do it.”

Meanwhile, after another strong outing last night, the writing on the wall says that David Cone is the front runner for the number 5 spot in the Mets starting rotation.


“With each time out I legitimize this a little more,” Cone said. “I think the most encouraging part about it is even in my last outing in Mexico when I gave it up, I still felt like I made progress and strides in arm strength. Each start I’ve gotten a little stronger. I probably had my best velocity of the spring tonight.”

Speaking of writing on the (bathroom) wall, former Met Rey Ordonez had a little sumthin, sumthin to say about Robbie Alomar as the Mets met the Devil Rays yesterday. It’s nothing much to speak of, just Rey Rey sounding off, Robbie acting like the diplomat, and the two squarshin any bad blood. Just a day in the life, right?

SAY NO RO Geoff

SAY NO RO

Geoff Young, who writes “Ducksnorts”, a blog dedicated to the Padres has a good post today regarding the Bubba-Ro trade.

CUBBIES UNDER THE KNIFE

Christian Ruzich, the Cub Reporter, has an excellent post featuring one of Baseball Prospectus’ head writers, Will Carroll. Both Carroll and Ruzich are top notch, and this post is well worth perusing.

CONTRERAS IMPROVING

Jose Contreras had another impressive outing yesterday after starting the spring with a thud, pitching 5 2/3 innings and striking out 8, in the Yankees 4-1 win over the Indians.

Jayson Stark covers the difficulties Cuban pitchers have had coming to the States in his latest column over at ESPN:


“At this point,” says Mike Arbuckle, the Phillies’ assistant GM for scouting and player development, “we’d have to think twice about making a large commitment to a Cuban pitcher, just because we’re concerned about the track record. Maybe El Duque was what he was advertised to be — at least in the short term. But by and large, none of these guys has reached the ceiling he was advertised to have.”

…”I think a mystique has developed around these guys,” Arbuckle says. “They’re coming from Cuba, this great and mysterious place that is supposed to have a mother lode of talent. And because of that, we’ve tended to overevaluate them. We’ve been seeing them compete on a daily basis against lesser-ability players. … But you never know how a guy is going to react when he has to go, day-in and day-out, against guys with more ability than he has.”

…”After spending their whole lives eating on $10 a month,” Arbuckle says, “a lot of these guys feel they’ve already reached the end of the rainbow just by getting here — to a situation where there are good meals on the table every day, a nice place to live and a little money in their pocket. It’s hard for them to comprehend that this is really just their starting point. When you’re coming from nothing, it’s easy for other things to become your priority.”

NO MO RO Tyler

NO MO RO

Tyler Kepner reports in The New York Times today that pitching prospect Mark Phillips made the deal that sent Rondell White to the Padres and brought Bubba Trammell to New York viable.


“The key component in this deal, for us, is Mark Phillips,” General Manager Brian Cashman said. “That’s not to put any extra pressure on him, but adding an extra power arm to our system was important.”

…”He’s a guy they asked about; we didn’t offer him,” Kevin Towers, the Padres’ general manager, said. “I think he’s got a chance to be a front-end-of-the-rotation starting pitcher. It’s going to take a while, because he’s a high school draft choice and he hasn’t pitched out of A ball. What’s kept him behind some of our other guys is command, but he has an above-average fastball and breaking ball, and he has size.”

As for Bubba, well, couldn’t every team use a Bubba? Trammell is set to make $2.5 million this year, and $4.75 million in 2004 (White is due to recieve $5 million this season). There is a $250,000 buyout of Bubba’s contract next year, which was covered by the Padres.


“Trammell’s pretty much a standard, average player,” one National League advance scout said. “He doesn’t run real good, doesn’t throw real good. He’s got some power. He’s just a nice, steady major league player with no outstanding tools, yet he kind of maximizes what he has.”

David Pinto thinks that the inclusion of Mark Phillips could make this trade a steal for the Bombers in the long run.

AROUND THE LEAGUE…

Charlie Nobles had a puff piece on Tony Clark in The Times yesterday.

The good people over at Baseball Primer have their 2003 Mets Preview. It was written by Chris Dial and can be best characterized as cautiously optimistic.


Tom Glavine was brought over from the Braves to be an ace. He’s 37, and everyone, including me, has said he couldn’t keep it up forever. Well, Braves fans always chuckled. Of course, now they are the ones predicting his collapse. Funny how that works. I look forward to Bobby Cox getting run for complaining about Glavine’s wide strike zone.

There is a report in the Boston Globe today that says that 3B Shea Hillenbrand will be staying put, after all.

The Red Sox youth movement continued, when 26-year old Peter Woodfork was named the new director of baseball operations/assistant director of player develpment earlier this week.

Woodfork is a native New Englander, who met Theo Epstein when the Sox GM was working for the San Diego organization.


Woodfork, 26, graduated from Harvard in 1999 with a degree in psychology. He comes to the Red Sox from the office of Major League Baseball, where he worked for two years in the labor relations department.

He is expected to spend a large portion of his time working on contract issues. Woodfork will also assist Ben Cherington, director of player development and special assistant to general manager Theo Epstein, in day-to-day baseball operations.

[Woodfork] said working on salaries and contracts will take up at least 50 percent of his time, with the rest being spent helping the front office in the player development area.

“It will be a good division of where players fit in salary-wise, and development-wise,” he said.

At 26, Woodfork is only two years younger than Epstein was when he was appointed the team’s general manager last year. And he certainly wants to advance in the baseball business – and perhaps even become a general manager himself.

“I think everyone’s overall goal is to get to the top,” he said. “Everyone wants to get there, and someday I hope to get there.”

If nothing else, the Sox have cornered the market on the Sabermetric Sammy Glick’s of the world.

Mugs Scherer, who operates the “Mugs’ Thoughts on Baseball,” blog, has a variety of interests, but his main focus is the Toronto Blue Jays. Here is his take on the signings of stud-outfielder Vernon Wells, and 2002′s AL Rookie of the Year, 3B Erick Hinske a few days ago.

Finally, Jay Jaffe, the futility infielder, has a follow-up column on the Dodgers. Jaffe is currently making the rounds in spring training, and I eagerly look forward to his report next week.

SAY IT AIN’T SO,

SAY IT AIN’T SO, RO

It just wasn’t meant to be for Rondell White and the Yanks. White, a good-natured guy who had a tough year with the Bombers last season, and who wanted dearly to excell with the Yanks, was traded this afternoon to the Padres for Bubba Trammell and minor-league pitcher Mark Phillips, San Diego’s first-round pick in the 2000 draft (Phillips was 9th overall), according to Lee Sinns.

I asked my cousin Gabe, the Mets fan what he makes of the deal. Here is what he said:


For one thing, it makes the Yankees’s roster that much more similar to the 2000 Mets’. The Yankees also got a minor leaguer, a highly drafted pitcher, and rightly so: when healthy, White’s a better hitter than Trammell, someone who can hit third (on a bad team) as opposed to someone who should hit sixth or seventh (but would have hit fourth on SD). I think, also, Trammell is more accustomed to and better suited for coming off the bench.

I assume that it’s a trade initiated by San Diego. They’ve been trying to upgrade slightly to give their lame line-up some sense of respectability.

More in the a.m…

SAY NO GO The

SAY NO GO

The A’s-Mariners season opener, which was to have taken place in Japan, has been cancelled. ESPN’s Jim Caple thinks MLB made the right move.

MORE ON MIGGY

Two of ESPN’s big guns, Peter Gammons and Rob Neyer give their take on the Miguel Tejada situation.

According to Gammons:


Anyone who follows baseball knew months ago that this would happen and that Oakland’s aim will be to sign Eric Chavez, a potential Hall of Famer and potential free agent at the end of next season. Oakland lost Jason Giambi and went from 102 to 103 wins in the season after he left. They begin this season projected to be the best team in baseball.

Former No. 1 pick Bobby Crosby has had a great spring, which projects him into the potential successor category to Tejada — although that’s way down the line. And at the end of the year, it is shortstop free agent heaven, with Tejada, Rich Aurilia and the best Matsui from Japan — Kaz — on the market.

Neyer adds:


Is the sky falling in Oakland? In 2001, with Jason Giambi, Johnny Damon, and Jason Isringhausen on the roster, the A’s won 102 games. In 2002, with Giambi, Damon, and Isringhausen earning $25 million — for other teams — the A’s won 103 games.

Are the A’s going to win 105 games in 2004, with Tejada finally making enough dough to provide for his family?

No, probably not. But anybody who thinks that losing Tejada spells disaster for the Athletics probably hasn’t been paying much attention to the standings.

I would be remiss if I didn’t direct the reader to the Elephants in Oakland webpage for more expert 411 on Tejada and the A’s.

TRADE BAIT

All winter long, the Red Sox have been shopping Shea Hillenbrand, while the Yankees are looking to move Rondell White and Sterling Hitchcock. As spring training draws to a close, the rumor mill has heated up again.

According to Lee Sinns:

3) According to the Boston Herald, the Redsox have intensified trade talks
for 3B Shea Hillenbrand, with the Cubs being the frontrunner, and the
Redsox having their eyes on P Juan Cruz. On the other hand, several reports
from Chicago indicate Hillenbrand to the Cubs isn’t on the front burner.

4) The trade talks between the Yankees and Padres, involving Yankees OF
Rondell White, and maybe also Sterling Hitchcock, and Padres OF Bubba
Trammell have reportedly intensified. According to the Newark Star Ledger,
the Yankees would like the Padres to add P Brian Lawrence into a deal.

HURTIN’

Yankee reliever Steve Karsay will not start the season with the ballclub, and it’s not looking too good for El Duque either.

Meanwhile, Red Sox pitcher Derek Lowe, who had a terrific season last year, continues to struggle this spring.

LIL SORI MAKES BIG IMPRESSION

There is a good article in the Times today about our boy Soriano. Both Juan Samuel and Sparky Anderson had nothing but rave reviews for the Yankees’ diminutive slugger.


“I didn’t realize how big he was,” [Anderson] said. “That’s a big boy, with a tremendous body. I guarantee he’s got no body fat on him. That’s all him.
“He sets in there with those quick hands, and that bat – he’s got a big old war club! I tell you what, if this young man don’t get hurt and can play 15, 16 years, I promise you this: You’re going to have to sit down and address the second basemen, who was the best.”

The biggest knock on Soriano is his lack of patience offensively. Mickey Rivers didn’t walk either, but Mick the Quick never had pop in his bat like Sori does.


“I don’t think about taking pitches,” Soriano said. “I want to stay like I am. I feel good like I am now, aggressive at home plate. I don’t want to change.”

…”When I tried to be patient, I was getting jammed a lot because I wasn’t ready to hit all the time,” he said. “I was in the take-take-take mode instead of thinking hit-hit-hit and take after you identify the pitch. Some guys learn to lay off bad pitches by being aggressive.”

…”I don’t even mess with him,” Manager Joe Torre said. “He’s a natural athlete. He’ll learn, just from experience. He’ll get better.”

Maybe, but Anderson was excited enough to tell Torre his impressions. Watching Soriano made Anderson’s day.

“I’m so glad I saw him in person,” he said. “On television, you just can’t get the same thing. I told Joe, `This is such a treat.’ I don’t care if you’re the manager of the other team, it’s a treat to see somebody like that. If you’re a fan today and you’re going to spend your money, spend your money to see someone like him. It’s worth it.”

I’m not exactly sure what to expect from Soriano this year, but I agree that he’s exciting to watch and well worth the price of admission.

THEY DON’T HIT EM

THEY DON’T HIT EM LIKE THEY USED TO

Just when you thought that the Piazza-Mota bean brawl incident was over, Prince Pedro Martinez chimes in with his expert analysis. Martinez told Sports Illustrated’s Tom Verducci:


“Maybe [Piazza] he felt like he had to show off his testosterone,” Martinez said. “But this may be more embarrassing than the one before. Why do you go after skinny Guillermo Mota in spring training and do nothing to Roger Clemens in the World Series?”

Asked if Piazza should have retaliated against Clemens, Martinez said, “I would not appreciate a guy picking up a bat and throwing it behind my butt. You have to do something then. Instead, [Piazza] goes after Mota. … I’m not taking Mota’s side for throwing at somebody in a spring training game. There’s a time for everything.”

Sure, you are taking Mota’s side Pedro. Let’s call it like it is. With all due respect to Martinez’s intelligence and charm, there are times when he comes off sounding like a pompous putz.

But while I am sympathetic to Piazza in this instance, I think that most hitters are over-sensitive these days, and most pitchers simply do not know how to pitch inside anymore. Who is to blame? I’m not entirely sure. It doesn’t help when MLB and the umpires don’t allow the players to police themselves.

Yankee manager Joe Torre, told Verducci:


“There is no game awareness anymore. Anytime a pitcher misses up and in, the batter likes to think the guy is throwing at him. I once had a guy—not with the Yankeess—charge the mound when he was hit with the bases loaded.”

Back to the old days, here is Stan Williams (Dodgers pitcher from 1958-62) talking about Vlad Guerror’s manager, Frank Robinson in “We Played the Game: 65 Players Remember Baseball’s Greatest Era: 1947-1964,” edited by Danny Peary.


I never really cared for Frank Robinson, but I had a great respect for his talent and determination. No one was more mentally tough than him. If you knocked him on his ass three times in a row and came anywhere near the plate the fourth time, he’d hit it a country mile. You didn’t want to wake him up. But it was hard not to because he stood right on the plate and leaned over, so you had no choice but to pitch him in. There was always a good chance you’d knock him down. Then he became more dangerous.

Perhaps my favortie bean ball story involves the volatile Dock Ellis, when he was pitching for the Pirates in the 1970s. The following excerpt is from “In the Country of Baseball,” written by Ellis with Donald Hall.

In spring training 1974, Dock Ellis, felt that the Pirates had begun to loss some aggressiveness.


“‘You are scared of Cincinnati.’ That’s what I told my teammates Every time we play Cincinnati, the hitters are on their ass.”

In 1970, ’71, and ’72, he says, the rest of the league was afraid of the Pirates. “they say, ‘Here come the big bad Pirates. They’re going to kick our ass!’ Like they give up. That’s what our team was starting to do Cincinatti will bullshit with us and kick our ass and laugh at us. They’re the only team that talk about us like a dog. Whenever we play that team, everybody socializes with them.” In the past the roles had been revered. “When they ran over to us, we knew they were afraid of us. When I saw our team doing it, right then I say, ‘We gunna get down. We gonna do the do. I’m going to hit these motherfuckers.’”

Sure enough, on May 1st, the Reds came to Pittsburgh and Dock Ellis was pitching.

He told catcher Manny Sanguillen in the pre-game meeting, “Don’t even give me no signal. Just try and catch the ball. If you can’t catch it, forget it.”


Taking his usual warm-up pitches, Dock noticed Pete Rose standing at one side of the batter’s box, leaning on his bat, studying his delivery. On his next-to-last warm-up, Dock let fly at Rose and almost hit him.

A distant early warning.

In fact, he had considered not hitting Pete Rose at all. He and Rose are friends, but of course friendship, as the commissioner of baseball would insist, must never prevent even-handed treatment. No, Dock had considered not hitting Pete Rose because Rose would take it so well “He’s going to charge first base, and make it look like nothing.” Having weighed the whole matter, Dock decided to hit him anyway.

“The first pitch to Pete Rose was directly toward his head,” as Dock expresses it, “not actually to hit him, ” but as “the message, to let him know that he was going to get hit. More or less to press his lips. I knew if I could get close to the head that I could get them in the body. Because they’re looking to protect their head, they’ll give me the body.” The next pitch was behind him. “the next one, I hit him in the side.”

Pete Rose’s response was even more devastating than Dock had anticipated. He smiled. Then he picked the ball up, where it had falled beside him, and gently, underhanded, tossed it back to Dock. Then he lit for first as if trying out fro the Olympics.

As Dock says, with huge approval, “You have to be good, to be a hot dog.”

As Rose bent down to pick up the ball, he had exchanged a word with Joe Morgan who was batting next Morgan taunted Rose, “He doesn’t like you anyway. You’re a white guy.”

Dock hit Morgan in the kidneys with his first pitch.

By this time, both benches were agog. It was Mayday on May Day. The Pirates realized that Dock was doing what he said he would do. The Reds were watching him do it. “I looked over on the bench, they were all with their eyes wide and their mouths wide open, like, ‘I don’t believe it!’

“The next batter was [Dan] Driessen. I threw a ball to him. High and inside. The next one, I hit him in the back.”

Bases loaded, no outs. Tony Perez, Cincinnati first baseman, came to bat. He did not dig in. “There was no way I could hit him. He was running. The first one I threw behind him, over his head, up against the screen, but it came back off the glass, and they didn’t advance. I threw behind him because he was backing up, but then he stepped in front of the ball. The next three pitches, he was running I walked him.” A run came in. “The next hitter was Johnny Bench. I tried to deck him twice. I threw at his jaw, and he moved. I threw at the back of his head, and he moved.”

With two balls and no strikes on Johnny Bench—eleven pitches gone: three hit batsmen, one walk, one run, and now two balls—[manager, Danny} Murtaugh approached the mound. “He came out as if to say, ‘What’s wrong? Can’t find the plate?’” Dock was suspicious that his manager really knew what he was doing. “No,” said Dock, “I must have Blass-itis.” (I was genuine wildness-not throwing at batters—that had destroyed Steve Blass the year before.)

“He looked at me hard,” Dock remembers. “He said, ‘I’m going to bring another guy in.’ So I just walked off the mound.”

How would Bob Watson rule on that one? Suspend Dock for 137 games and cut off his coke supply?

Hmmm.

WHILE I WAS OUT…

WHILE I WAS OUT…

Here are some things that went down over the past 5 days, which may be of some interest…

Both Mike Piazza and Guillermo Mota were suspended for 5 games as a result of their run-in last week. Vlad gets 3 games for throwing bolo’s, and Piazza gets 5 for intent. Something is fishy here, Bob Watson.

Theo Epstein, the Red Sox new general manager continues to be accessible and articulate. We’ll see how he handles things come September, but it’s my feeling that the Red Sox will have a lot to cheer about this year.

Yankee pitcher, Jose Contreras got off the shnide late last week with an impressive outing against the less-than-impressive Devil Rays.

Meanwhile, it looks as if Yankee reliever Steve Karsay, may start the season on the DL. No suprise there.

Aaron Gleeman has an excellent analysis of the Jack Cust-Chris Richards trade between the Rockies and the O’s, as well as the Kenny Rogers signing by the Twins.

Steve Goldman, author of the Pinstriped Bible, likes to move as far as the Orioles are concerned:


The acquisition of Jack Cust by the Orioles on Tuesday was a strong move by that team, the first good deal they’ve made in literally years. Although Cust is likely never going to be more than a 1B/DH, and the O’s already have a surfeit of that kind of player, for once they’re ahead of the development curve instead of behind. Cust is just 24, a baby for an Orioles organization that has liked its roster so crusty that Boog’s ribs have been more tender than their players.

Cust has real power, and will take a walk. He’s also going to strike out. A lot. Perhaps too much — Cust looked as if he was swinging with his eyes closed during a September audition in the bigs. Even so, he has the potential to combine with Jay Gibbons to give the O’s two lefty power threats, something they haven’t had in quite some time. The trick for Mike Hargrove will be finding him playing time amidst the wreckage of David Segui, Jeff Conine, Marty Cordova, and other relics of the days when steam engines puffed their way across the lonesome prairie. No matter what happens, this is still a red letter day. The Orioles have acquired a genuine, bona fide, prospect.

Jay Jaffe, the futility infielder has a terrific piece on the L.A. Dodgers and the all-mighty dollar that is worth checking out too.

Lastly, the much maligned Jayson Stark filed this article on Vlad Guerrero last week, in which he examines the possibilites of where Vlad may end up next season. Guerrero will obviously be wooed by big money teams like the Yankees and Mets, but I wouldn’t be suprised if he takes less money to stay with the Expos, no matter where they wind up next year.

"I don't know what the personality of this guy is," said one NL executive. "I don't know what his personality is because he's such a quiet kid. And I don't know what his personality is because he plays in Montreal. To be honest, there's really not much that any of us know about him, except for his ability."

They don’t call Vlad “the Mute” for nothing.

"Montreal is the perfect place for him," said Expos third-base coach Manny Acta. "He doesn't care if people ever talk about him. He wants no attention. In Montreal, he can walk down St. Catherine Street, and some people don't even know who he is. He enjoys that. He enjoys being just another guy in the community."

“I’ve been fortunate enough to be around some pretty good players,” Minaya said. “Sammy Sosa. Juan Gonzalez. I know all those guys. And this is one of the simplest guys I’ve been around.”

Which isn’t to say that Vlad is dumb. He’s just a good ol’ country boy. He looks little bit like a goat after all, albeit a very strong goat. (He acts like a goat sometimes too, which may explain why he was caught stealing 20 times last season.)

What makes Guerrero an oddity is that he doesn’t crave the money or fame that a player of his caliber usually commands.


Guerrero grew up in almost incomprehensible poverty, in Nizao, Bani, in the Dominican Republic. For most of the great Dominican players, baseball has been the chauffeur that whisked them off to a better, ritzier, more comfortable life. Yet Guerrero continues to live on the same street where he grew up.

“This winter, I went to visit him,” Acta said, “with Alfonso Soriano and another friend. I thought we’d have to search to find him. Instead, we found him sitting in the middle of the park there, with all the shoe shiners and the mojo concho (scooter riders) and all the people in the park.

“We spent the afternoon with him, and during the afternoon, there must have been 10 people who came looking for him, with problems, looking for money, people coming up with prescriptions and asking if he could help fill them.

“Imagine how hard that is, to stay that simple. But he’s so humble, so down to earth. He doesn’t want to separate himself from his roots. A lot of big stars move away. They get big places so nobody bothers them. He’s not like that. He wants to stay with the people he grew up with.”

As tantalizing an option as Guerrero would be for the Yankees, or the Red Sox, I fear that tampering with his little cocoon could effect his game. Maybe I’m not giving him enough credit. Anyone who can put up the numbers he does should be able to do it anywhere, right? I’d like to think so, but it would be a pity if Vlad signed a mega-deal and then faltered. Heck, Vlad is the Bizarro A-Rod, after all.

It would only be in keeping with his personality for him to do something completely different. (Maybe he’ll sign with the Padres.)


“He needs comfort and familiarity,” said an agent who represents several Expos. “He would best be served by staying with the club and its new owners. Clearly, new owners will want to keep their marquee player. If the new owners have the capital to invest in the purchase of a club, then they will likely factor in the cost of keeping one of the game’s best players and, undoubtedly, their greatest asset.

“Washington is not much different in size than Montreal,” the agent said. “Whatever the differences, being with the same guys and friends will make the transition easier for him.”

TUG O MY HEART

TUG O MY HEART

The irrespressible Tug McGraw was diagnosed with brain cancer over the weekend and is scheduled to have surgery today. Bill Madden had an article on the 58-year old McGraw over the weekend in the Daily News, which included a recent conversation:


McGraw: “These kids today never heard of the people I used. For instance, my Bo Derek fastball – the one that had a nice tail to it – I’d have to rename Jennifer Lopez for them to understand it. And I know for sure they’d never get the Peggy Lee (Is that all there is?) changeup.”

One can only surmise the John Jameson fastball, named after McGraw’s favorite Irish whiskey (“because it was my best shot, always straight”), would be lost on today’s generation of pitchers, too. The pitch for which he was most noted, however, was his screwball, an offshoot of the Bo Derek fastball.

“I learned it from (former Yankee) Ralph Terry when I was in the Florida instructional league with the Mets in 1966,” McGraw said. “Terry was an instructor for them and he told me ‘with the natural tail on your fastball you should try the screwball.’ He named his screwball “Scroogie” and later authored a syndicated comic book with a character of the same name.

A’S WILL NOT SIGN

A’S WILL NOT SIGN TEJADA TO LONG-TERM DEAL

Here is Lee Sinns’ take on Oakland’s decision not to sign their shortstop, reigning AL MVP, Miggy Tejada to a long-term contract:


A’s owner Steve Schott says the team isn’t going to offer SS Miguel Tejada a longterm contract. Tejada’s eligible for free agency after the season and would reportedly like an 8-10 year contract.

Excellent move by the A’s. Let Tejada test the open market and then see what his pricetag is going to be.

The odds are good that someone is going to overpay because the BBWAA chose to give an award to him. Then, let the other team overpay, publicly cry about it, privately pop the champagne corks about not being that team and then take the amount you would have been willing to spend on Tejada and go get some players who you can pay based on legitimate performance issues and not hype.

Or, maybe Tejada won’t find what he wants in the open market and will return at a reasonable rate.

If they lose him, it’s not like they’d be losing a Jason Giambi. If Giambi averages 10 RCAA a month, that would be his worst year since his 60 RCAA in 1999. Tejada has 10 RCAA–for his entire career.

Tejada’s coming off a 21 RCAA season. If he doubles that–Giambi hasn’t had a season that “low” since 31 in 1998.

Jason Giambi, however, did have a reaction to Schott’s move.


“I thought,” Giambi said, “the whole reason they let me go was to use that money to sign all their younger players. What gives? What kind of a message does letting Tejada go send to a guy like ‘Chav’ (third baseman Eric Chavez, who hit 34 homers last year and is coming up on free agency after next season)?”

“I thought that was what this whole new labor deal with the revenue sharing was all about,” said Giambi, “so the small market teams could afford to keep their best players? Well, I guess we know what that’s all about. They wouldn’t even make (Tejada) an offer. So much for your fan base.”

Another former Oakland player, Johnny Damon–never shy in expressing his opinion— weighed in with his two cents too:


”I think it’s probably collusion,” Damon said, uttering a word that causes major league owners to see red, especially in the aftermath of the proven cases of collusion in the late ’80s that cost owners more than $280 million in damages. ”It’s one of those things where they’re saying not too many teams can afford to go out and sign Tejada, that there might be just a couple of teams that can do it — maybe the Mets, maybe the Dodgers.

”I think they are trying to get Tejada in that corner, because they know he wants to play there, to make him think that maybe there will be no team out there for him in free agency.

”There are a lot of different stories teams use with free agents. That’s one of them.”

A’S WILL NOT SIGN

A’S WILL NOT SIGN TEJADA TO LONG-TERM DEAL

Here is Lee Sinns’ take on Oakland’s decision not to sign their shortstop, reigning AL MVP, Miggy Tejada to a long-term contract:


A’s owner Steve Schott says the team isn’t going to offer SS Miguel
Tejada a longterm contract. Tejada’s eligible for free agency after the season and would reportedly like an 8-10 year contract.

Excellent move by the A’s. Let Tejada test the open market and then see what his pricetag is going to be.

The odds are good that someone is going to overpay because the BBWAA chose to give an award to him. Then, let the other team overpay, publicly cry about it, privately pop the champagne corks about not being that team and then take the amount you would have been willing to spend on Tejada and go get some players who you can pay based on legitimate performance issues and not hype.

Or, maybe Tejada won’t find what he wants in the open market and will return at a reasonable rate.

If they lose him, it’s not like they’d be losing a Jason Giambi. If Giambi averages 10 RCAA a month, that would be his worst year since his 60 RCAA in 1999. Tejada has 10 RCAA–for his entire career.

Tejada’s coming off a 21 RCAA season. If he doubles that–Giambi hasn’t had a season that “low” since 31 in 1998.

Jason Giambi, however did have a reaction to Schott’s move.


“I thought,” Giambi said, “the whole reason they let me go was to use that money to sign all their younger players. What gives? What kind of a message does letting Tejada go send to a guy like ‘Chav’ (third baseman Eric Chavez, who hit 34 homers last year and is coming up on free agency after next season)?”

“I thought that was what this whole new labor deal with the revenue sharing was all about,” said Giambi, “so the small market teams could afford to keep their best players? Well, I guess we know what that’s all about. They wouldn’t even make (Tejada) an offer. So much for your fan base.”

Another former Oakland player, Johnny Damon–never shy in expressing his opinion— weighed in with his two cents too:


”I think it’s probably collusion,” Damon said, uttering a word that causes major league owners to see red, especially in the aftermath of the proven cases of collusion in the late ’80s that cost owners more than $280 million in damages. ”It’s one of those things where they’re saying not too many teams can afford to go out and sign Tejada, that there might be just a couple of teams that can do it — maybe the Mets, maybe the Dodgers.

”I think they are trying to get Tejada in that corner, because they know he wants to play there, to make him think that maybe there will be no team out there for him in free agency.

”There are a lot of different stories teams use with free agents. That’s one of them.”

I SAID IT ONCE,

I SAID IT ONCE, I’LL SAY IT AGAIN: YES!

Emily successfully pulled through 6 1/2 hours of surgery on Thursday, and is recovering slowly but surely at Lennox Hill, on the Upper East Side. As I mentioned last week, Emily suffers from Chrones. This was her 9th operation since 1996. This latest round dealt with problems caused by an infection that was a result of her last surgery, and the doctor’s appear to have remedy the situation.

Damn, but my girl is a fighter. She’s a real bulldog, making it through like a trooper, though she has been doped up pretty good since the operation. I’ve been with her every day and I gotta admit, it tears me up to see her in so much pain. Truthfully, she hasn’t felt much of it, but you can see just how enervated her body is from the procedure, and just how progressive the recovery process is going to be.

I haven’t had much time to dwell on baseball during the past couple of days, but every once in a while I’ve tried to let the idea that the I’ll be able to watch the Yankees this year really sink in.

I still can’t believe it. Part of me doesn’t want to believe it until I see the damn channel pop up on my TV at home. Call me superstitious, but it’s hard to trust anyone from either Cablevision or the YES Network after all we’ve been through with these schnooks.

Still, the thought of not being dependent on Sterling and Steiner is enough to keep me warm until the flowers start blooming in a couple of weeks.
For Realah, Magilla.

THE GAMBLER I worked

THE GAMBLER

I worked for the filmmaking duo, the Coen brothers, for a year in the mid-1990s, first as their personal assistant, and then as an assistant film editor on “The Big Lebowski.” I started working for them just before the Yanks won the World Serious in 1996. Joel couldn’t have cared less about baseball, but Ethan was a casual fan, and kept up with the box scores and the headlines. As you can imagine, he was anything but a Yankee fan.

I thought it fitting however that Ethan’s favorite Bronx Bomber at the time was none other than that lovable loser, Mr. Square Jaw himself, Kenny Rogers. He is a sap directly out of one of their movies.

Well, Rogers signed with the Coen brothers’ hometown team, the Twins, yesterday. Here what Lee Sinns had to say about the deal, which will bump the highly touted Johan Santana back to the bullpen for the time being:


1) The Twins signed free agent P Kenny Rogers to a 1 year, $2 million
contract, contingent on him passing a physical.

Rogers has gone to 2 extremes in the past 2 years. His 6.19 ERA/-23 RSAA in
2001 was the worst year of his career, while his 3.84 ERA/28 RSAA tied 1998
for his 2nd best RSAA figure. Rogers has a 4.20 career ERA, compared to his
league average of 4.57, and 90 RSAA in 589 games.

The 38 year old ranked 5th in the AL, among LHP, in RSAA over the past 5
years–

RSAA
1 Barry Zito 88
2 Jamie Moyer 77
T3 David Wells 65
T3 Mark Buehrle 65
5 Jarrod Washburn 58
6 Kenny Rogers 53
7 Chuck Finley 48
8 Andy Pettitte 44
9 Mike Sirotka 39
10 Arthur Rhodes 37

2) Twins MGR Ron Gardenhire says that, with Rogers’s signing, Johan Santana
is going to move back into the bullpen, but the team still views him as a
future starter.

Santana, who turns 24 today, is coming off a 2.99 ERA/17 RSAA season in 27
games (14 starts) and set a Senators/Twins single season record for best
SO/9 IP, vs. the league average (min: 100 IP)–

STRIKEOUTS/9 IP YEAR DIFF PLAYER LEAGUE
1 Johan Santana 2002 5.12 11.38 6.26
2 Tom Hall 1970 5.03 10.68 5.65
3 Joe Krakauskas 1938 4.15 7.71 3.57
4 Tom Hall 1971 4.06 9.48 5.42
5 Camilo Pascual 1960 3.60 8.47 4.87
6 Juan Berenguer 1988 3.42 8.91 5.49
7 Walter Johnson 1910 3.40 7.61 4.21
8 Dave Boswell 1966 3.32 9.21 5.90
9 Walter Johnson 1912 3.15 7.39 4.24
10 Bert Blyleven 1974 3.06 7.98 4.91

WHO YOU CALLIN’ FUNNY LOOKIN?

Steve Keane, who recently launched a Mets blog, aptly titled, The Eddie Kranpool Society has a good call on Godzilla Matsui: Shemp from the Three Stooges.

PEACE

I want to take a moment to thank all the readers who have sent me e-mails wishing the best for my girl, Emily today. Thanks, I’ll pass those good vibes along when she comes to.

YES! I was at

YES!

I was at Lennox Hill hospital at the crack of dawn this morning as my girlfriend was getting prepped for her surgery. As we held hands in a pre-op waiting room, I caught the Yes-Cablevision settlement headline on the television.

I took it as a sign of hope for Emily. If those rich bozo’s can finally come to their senses, she’ll make it through this ordeal with flying colors.

PUNKS JUMP UP TO

PUNKS JUMP UP TO GET BEAT DOWN

“This era of pitchers don’t know the art of pitching inside. They just think they can take a baseball and you wind up just throwing it at somebody’s head or whatever, that’s pitching inside.” — Frank Robinson.

In a spectacular act of cowardice, Dodger pitching hopeful Guillermo Mota, plunked Mets catcher Mike Piazza for the second consecutive year in a spring training contest, and then ran to safety like a little bitch when Piazza charged the mound.


“It was a set-up as far as I was concerned,” Howe said. “It was certainly intentional from my viewpoint.

“The guy ran like a scared rabbit when the man came out after him,” Howe added. “If he wants to hit somebody, stand there and fight. He can back-pedal faster than I can run forward.”

Unlike Vladi G, Piazza is not your proto-typical, thin-skinned modern slugger. I saw the game involving Mota last year, and thought the kid was a punk trying to act tough when he threw at Piazza on a 3-0 count in a meaningless game. Those feelings were reinforced when I saw the replay of last night’s incident.

Have you ever seen someone who deliberately wanted to hit a batter, run scared the way Mota did?

Piteful. I don’t blame Piazza for being heated. This ranks up there with the best chickenshit beanings in recent memory.

While I’m on the subject, here is an article from MLB.com on the Vlad Guerrero-Brad Penny altercation earlier this week.

[Expos manager, Frank] Robinson was surprised that Guerrero charged the mound because he had been patient in the past when it came to situations like the one on Monday.

Robinson said that when he was a player, instead of going after the pitcher, he walked to first base and took his anger out on the shortstop or second baseman on the basepaths, or by getting a base hit during his next time at-bat. There was a reason behind Robinson’s actions.

“I retaliated, but I didn’t charge the mound,” he said. “Why would I charge the mound? Then the pitcher has won, [and] I’m gone. I did my teammates a disservice, I did the organization a disservice and I did myself a disservice because I’m not in the ballgame. I just took it out on the second baseman or the shortstop. Many of them asked me, ‘What are you doing?’ I said, ‘Don’t ask me. Ask your pitcher.’ I was going to get you if it was a ground ball.”

MR. CLUTCH

There was a nice, little article on Edgardo Alfonzo in the Sac Bee a couple of days ago that is worth checking out. Can you equate clutch hitting with playing in New York? Fonzie thinks so:


“The key is his plate coverage,” new Giants batting coach Joe Lefebvre said. “He can hit any pitch with a short, compact swing — and that makes him dangerous. Playing in New York definitely toughens you up. He can handle anything.”

Alfonzo agreed.

“The New York pressure never got to me. The fans and media back there can be tough when you’re going bad and great when you’re doing good. But it really was no different than playing winter ball.

“When you play in Venezuela, it’s very intense from the first pitch to the last, so it makes you very aggressive. And when you play in New York, you have to learn to handle things. There are a lot of distractions and a lot of competition, including the Yankees…”I just try to select a pitch to hit. I’ve always been able to focus. It’s always been part of my game to make contact. I’ve always hit line drives and used all fields.”

TAGGING UP

It’s no secret that Bernie Williams, a four-time gold glove center fielder, has a rag arm, that is only getting worse with age. To his credit, Williams knows it is a flaw in his game:


“That’s always been a constant battle for me,” the center fielder said. “There are things in this game that come easily to me and some things that don’t. That’s one of the things that never has come easily to me, and I think everybody knows it.”

…”If you perceive the guy to not have a strong throwing arm, you would be more encouraged to do that, sure,” Williams said. “It’s something I would do myself.”

Having identified the problem, Williams works every day on charging the ball so he can be in better position to make a throw.

“Does Bernie have the strongest arm in the league? No,” Yankees first-base and outfield coach Lee Mazzilli said. “But there are things we do to compensate for that, like playing shallow and getting rid of the ball. Bernie’s real good about working on that.”

…”Everyone knows what you have, so it’s no secret,” Mazzilli said. “That’s why we work on it all the time.”

Mazzilli said Williams loves working on the details, things like getting in position to throw off the correct foot, setting up to catch fly balls in a good throwing position, and charging ground balls to cut down the time it takes to get the ball back to the infield. Still, other teams see an opportunity — something to exploit.

“There’s no doubt, in everybody’s report, you take the extra base on a ball hit out there,” an American League scout said at yesterday’s Yankees-Indians game. “And you’ve definitely seen a decline. I wouldn’t be surprised to see more teams (tagging up from first) as time goes on.”

…”It keeps you humble,” Williams said. “I know I will not be a complete player until I master that.”

It is unlikely that Bernie will improve his throwing significantly at this stage in his career, but he can work at making quick, accurate throws to the cut off man (ala Mickey Rivers). Still, it’s refreshing to see that Williams’ work ethic is as strong as ever.

WHO YOU CALLIN A

WHO YOU CALLIN A RED ASS?

Former Yankee pitcher, and personal favorite, El Duque appears to be a happy camper for the Expos this spring.

According to a report in Newsday, Montreal GM Omar Minaya said:


“First day, 8 a.m., and he’s out there running laps before everybody else,” Minaya said yesterday before the Mets-Expos game that ended in an 11-inning, 6-6 tie. “He’s been a leader for us right from the start.”

Hernandez, who was sharp pitching three scoreless innings in his first spring-training start for Montreal and makes his next start tomorrow, smiled easily and, through an interpreter, was loquacious with New York writers. “I never felt I had to impress anyone here. That’s just the way I work,” said Hernandez, who has admitted he is several years older than the 33 it says in the Expos’ media guide. “The people in New York know I work hard and I always come out to the park early.”

…”He’s been throwing great. He’s the El Duque I’ve always known,” [Minaya,] the former Mets assistant GM said. “The leadership and the work ethic are there. Some men are perceived leaders and some men are leaders with scars. El Duque is a leader with the scars to prove it. When there was a big game for the Yankees, he wanted the ball. Wanting the ball is leadership.”

El Duque has also been in constant contact with fellow Cuban refuge, Jose Contreras, offering him counsel through what is undoubtedly a difficult transitional period:


“The change is very harsh, in speaking English, not understanding things, having your family far away, the pressure from the press, the money they’re paying you,” HernZndez said. “There’s a lot of things you have to overcome little by little.”

Contreras listened. Leo Astacio, Contreras’s translator with the Yankees, said: “He just kept nodding. He appreciated it.”

GETTING CLOSER TO GOD IN A TIGHT SITUATION

The Times has a story today about Mariano Rivera and his wife Clara. Last fall, Clara gave birth to a son, Jaziel. She had to have a Caesarean, and as a result began hemorrhaging. It was a frightening situation but she pulled through just fine.

Rivera, a deeply spirtual man, still gets misty-eyed when he talks about it.

Just to prove that all jocks aren’t self-involved jerks, dig this:


A few weeks later, Rivera invited about 20 members of the hospital staff who had cared for his family to a celebration at his home in Purchase, N.Y. It rained that night, and Rivera parked cars to keep his guests dry. “I’m thankful that my family survived because of what you did,” Rivera later told the gathering. The speech nearly caused him to weep.

“As a worker or an employee, it’s special when people show appreciation,” Cruz said. “Our staff was very humbled by being included in the night at the Rivera home. It was beautiful.”

A beaming Rivera said: “They took care of my wife and son like they were their family, so I wanted to do something for them. They told me no one had ever done anything like this for him.”

This story hit home for me, because my girlfriend is going to have major surgery tomorrow. Emily has Crones, and while the procedure is not life-threatening it will take up to 9 hours, and is a major ordeal. She will be at Lennox Hill hospital in New York for a week to ten days recovering after that. All of my thoughts and love will be with her, of course, and I can only hope that she is in good hands.

I won’t be able to treat all of her doctors and nurses to a dinner at my house, but I may send them a note of thanks all the same.

HUMBLE PIE One thing

HUMBLE PIE

One thing I know for sure. Each year, the more I learn about baseball, the more I realize just how much I don’t know. Or how much I have yet to learn. It is why I keep coming back.

It is also one of the reasons why the art of second-guessing isn’t one of my favorite activities. More often than not, I simply don’t feel qualified enough to go there. Sure I engage in it from time to time, and I also appreciate how essential second-guessing is for many fans, but frankly, I’m more interested in how Dusty Baker is tuned in to his team’s individual culinary tastes than how sound his baseball strategies are.

But that’s just me.

With each passing season, I feel that as my appreciation for the game grows profoundly, so does the sense that there is still much to discover.

I was reminded of this when I read Rob Neyer’s recent interview with Paul DePodesta, assistant GM of the A’s. DePodesta serves as Billy Beane’s right-hand man in Oakland, and is likely to become a hot shot general manager sooner rather than later:


Growing up, I always thought I knew a lot about baseball. I played in college. I played with a bunch of guys who played pro ball. I played hundreds and hundreds of games. Because of my body type, I was an on-base machine (I haven’t hit a home run since tee-ball), and I was always fundamentally sound because I had to be. But I got to the Indians, and it didn’t take but three or four days of being around the minor-league complex in spring training, and I realized, “I know nothing.”

It was overwhelming at first. At that point, I realized that the best I could offer was just grinding out anything they needed done. And it was probably something like two years later when I gave them something that actually added value to the organization. I just didn’t know a lot about the game, or at least not about the way this game works.

So the advice I normally give is, “Don’t go in thinking that you’re going to revolutionize this organization. Go in ready to work very hard. Keep an open mind, and listen to everybody.”

RED ASS REDUX Former

RED ASS REDUX

Former teammates Omar Vizquel and Jose Mesa have a nasty little feud going. It started with comments Vizquel made about Mesa in his book, “Omar! My Life On and Off the Field,” and apparently didn’t end when the two faced each other last year.


“I thought he already took care of business,” Vizquel said Tuesday. “He already hit me once. He hit me twice actually, because he hit me once in Seattle. I don’t know why he hit me then. I hadn’t done anything to him then.”

The Indians faced the Phillies in a spring training game yesterday, but the two did not face each other.

Still, Mesa is still heated:


“I will not forgive him. Even my little boy (Jose Jr.) told me to get him. If I face him 10 more times, I’ll hit him 10 times. I want to kill him.”

Which bring to mind a scene from “The Honeymooners:”


Alice Kramden: They call me Killer, cause you slay me.

Ralph Kramden: And I’m calling Bellvue cause yer nuts!

TAKE IT FROM FRANK

Inspired by Vladi Guererro’s short fuse, I peeked into my baseball library and checked out Frank Robinson’s autobiography, “Extra Innings” (written with Berry Stainback).

Here is what the Hall of Famer had to say about beanballs:


I was as aggressive at the plate as I was on the base paths and in the outfield. I stood as close to the plate as I could and stuck my head out over it so that I could get the best possible view of the ball when it left the pitcher’s hand and so that I could protect the outside corner. If pitchers jammed me, my wrists were quick enough to get around on the pitch. And I dove into the ball as I strode to start my swing, but my reflexes were so sharp and my wrists were so strong that I could stop my stroke before I turned over my wrists for a called strike.

…But pitchers were not happy to see me come up to the plate with my head hanging over it in what was known as “concussion alley.” Many liked to throw fastballs inside and drive me off the plate. George Powles [a legendary American Legion coach from Oakland who also taught Joe Morgan, Curt Flood and Vada Pinson as kids] had schooled me well in how to get out of the way of inside pitches. Tuck your head into your shoulder and spin left. Quickly. If the pitch was too far inside, you spun and fell hard away from it. So a pitcher would knock me down, and I’d get right back up and hang over the plate again. At times, of course, I couldn’t get out of the way of 90-mph fastballs that were well inside. In my rookie year, I was hit by pitches 20 times, which easily led the league. I led the league in being hit by pitches in each of my ten National League seasons.

In Robinson’s second season (1957) he was beaned in the head by Ruben Gomez, and the following spring he was hit in the head again, this time by Camilo Pascual in an exhibition game against the Washington Senators. The second incident seriously effected Robbie, as his 1958 show. But the dip didn’t last long, and Robinson rebounded to win the NL MVP award by 1961.


The baseball played in those days was a lot tougher than it is today for one simple reason—the brushback pitch. Every team had a pitcher or two who moved guys off the plate and occasionally hit batters in the ribs, in the buttocks, in the elbow, or in the head. No team had more pitchers who threw dusters than the Dodgers…

We didn’t have many pitchers who regularly dusted opponents, and that bothered me when my teammates and I were being knocked down. If opposing pitchers were going to try and intimidate me to keep from doing my job, I though it was up to the pitchers on my club to help me and help themselves by retailiating with dusters. Most pitchers that you knocked down a couple of times got the message.

…We always knew when were being thrown at. When a pitcher with good control started throwing behind hitters, that was a clue. And when one of my teammates was hit such a pitcher, I’d tell ours, “Hey, let’s stop this thing before it gets out of hand. He hit one our our guys; let’s hit one of theirs and end it.”

The umpires usually controlled the beanball battles pretty well. Typical was a game against Don Drysdale. The first pitch he threw to second baseman Don Blasingame was behind his head. After getting Blazer out, Drysdale threw three pitches in a row at Pinson’s ankles, making him skip. Then Drysdale jammed Vada, but he dinked the pitch off his thumbs over third and ran it into a double. Drysdale was so furious that his face was flushed when I stepped in. His first pitch was at my head, the second at my ribs. While I spat out some dust, home plate umpire Dusty Boggess stepped toward Drysdale and said, “That’s enough of that. You do it one more time; you’re out of there.”

The next pitch smacked me in the forearm. Drysdale was ejected from the game, fined $50, and suspended for three days. Of course, suspending a starting pitcher for three days was meaningless, because he only started every four days anyway.

What? Robbie didn’t charge the mound? My how times have changed.

HURRICANE VLAD In the

HURRICANE VLAD

In the first hilarious spaz encounter of the year, my main man Vlad Guerrero charged Brad Penny in the first inning of the Expos-Marlins exhibition game yesterday. Guerrero, who is surely over-sensitive about being pitched inside, instigated the fight with the Marlins pitcher.

Awww, nutzo.


“He threw the first punch. He started saying stuff. I just felt I wasn’t in the wrong at all,” Penny said.

“If I was going to hit him, I’d have thrown a four-seamer, not a sinker. It barely touched his shirt. It didn’t even hit him hard.”

Guerrero said it wasn’t the end result, but the principle involved.

“I expect people to pitch me inside. I understand that. But it was just the fact that it was up around the head area. And what he said after he threw at me, he kind of cursed at me. That kind of ticked me off.”

“Nobody’s that good to where you can’t throw inside. He’s a Hall-of- Famer, but you still have to pitch him in,” Penny said. “He’s going to get into a lot of fights if that’s how he acts when people throw him inside.”

Expos manager Frank Robinson, who was hit by his fair share of pitches during his playing days, naturally defended his star:


“He’s been very patient and very tolerant about these things, so I’m a little surprised. But when I really look at it, no. I think the pitcher accelerated it … coming down off the mound and popping off,” Robinson said.

“After watching all last year and this spring, the opposing pitchers take liberties. The pitchers say: ‘I’m gonna make a real good pitch, or I hit him. If I do, so be it. If he’s out of the lineup, so much the better.’ “

Perhaps Robinson can give Vlad some lessons in how to properly turn away from a brushback pitch. Of course, yesterday’s incident only reinforces just how much pitching inside has changed since Robinson’s playing days.

At the very least, this should add some spice to the inter-division rivalry between the ‘Spos and the Fish.

20 days until Opening day. Fire away.

DUMB AND DUMBER The

DUMB AND DUMBER

The Yankees fined David Wells $100,000 yesterday for the sins of tarnishing the Yankee image. Oh, brother. Coming from George Steinbrenner, that sure is rich. Quite frankly, I don’t see how the punishment will do anything but boost the sales of Wells book.

Vic Ziegel hit the nail on the head in the Daily News this morning:


Has there been a more tiresome spring training story than David Wells, his perfect game, and his imperfect book?

Mike Lupica was in fine form today too:


George Steinbrenner, hiding behind his team president and his general manager, now fines David Wells $100,000 for the crime of being David Wells. Wells lets him do it, after writing a book that is supposed to show that he’s not just loud and obnoxious, but a real tough character as well. They both come up looking like phonies. It is why they are made for each other.

…The real beauty of what happened yesterday is an owner who never knows when to shut up fining one of his pitchers for not knowing when to shut up.

An owner who wrote the book on embarrassing the Yankees fines David Wells for writing a book that he thinks embarrasses the Yankees. It frankly doesn’t get much better than that.

…You know the only thing that would make the whole thing go away? Wells going away. Only he’s staying. It means Wells’ season will be more entertaining than his book, too.

It was easier in the old days, when Billy Martin was the one drinking too much, and embarrassing the Yankees more than the owner. Steinbrenner would just fire him. Only now he’s stuck with Wells and the irony is pretty wonderful, if you ask me:

George Steinbrenner can’t fire Boomer Wells, who brags about drinking too much, because of a deal the two of them cut in a bar.

U-G-L-Y, YOU AIN’T GOT

U-G-L-Y, YOU AIN’T GOT NO ALIBI

I stopped by my friend Joey La P’s place in the East Village yesterday afternoon, and was thrilled and delighted to catch a couple of innings of the Yankee game. Joey has somehow managed to scam 6,000 channels of digital cable for himself, so we caught the Tampa Bay Fox feed of the game.

The most exciting thing I saw was Godzilla Matsui bat for the first time.

Boy, is he f-ugly. But like the real Godzilla, Matsui is ugly in a friendly way. Like a three-year old, Matsui has a very large head. He has high cheek bones, and a wide face, and crooked teeth. Matsui doesn’t look unlike a Cro-Magnon version of Christopher Walken.

But he’s not comically ugly, or offensively ugly. His face has character.

Matsui has huge, Robert Newhouse-fullback thighs, and a big, fat ass. He stands very erect in the box, and was selective and patient in the at-bat I saw. He pulled a 2-2 pitch on the ground to the right side. The ball kicked off Travis Lee’s glove, and into the outfield; Rondell White scored from second on the play. I believe Lee was given an error.

Still, Matsui looks to be an appealing hitter to watch. God bless Joey La Pep, and his scamming ass.

WHERE’S YOUR MESSIAH NOW?

One player who has had his fair share of critics over the past year and a half is Andy Pettitte. Some feel as if Pettitte is just not healthy enough to be a big time pitcher any longer. Andy’s performance on Saturday didn’t help dismiss the skeptics.

FANTASY FYI

I recieved an e-mail from a reader, plugging his keeper fantasy league. I’m not going to have the time to participate, but I thought I’d pass it along in case any of you out there were interesting. Here are the details he forwarded to me. Check it out:


Details: This will be a ten-team yahoo keeper league with a live mixed draft on 3-17-03 @ 6:50 pm est. To join the yahoo league click http://baseball.fantasysports.yahoo.com/b1, join private league, then enter league id #53151, password-daggers.

After the season you will be able to reserve 4 players from your team, and use them again next season. There is a $100 entry fee for this league, payable in full or installments via money orders, check, yahoo pay direct, or paypal. PAYMENT DOES NOT NEED TO BE MADE PRIOR TO THE DRAFT!! Please contact me for payment details and address.

Entire amount must be paid by all-star game, or your team will be dropped, and any money paid will not be refunded. Prizes-$850 to overall winner including playoffs, $150 to playoff runner-up.

Scoring will be head to head based on these categories : R H HR RBI SB AVG OPS W L CG SHO SV K HLD ERA WHIP. Your roster will consist of the following: Starting Positions: C, 1B, 1B, 2B, 2B, 3B, 3B, SS, SS, OF, OF, OF, OF, Util, Util, SP, SP, SP, SP, SP, SP, RP, RP, RP, RP, DL, DL PLUS 5 BENCH SPOTS.

Please email me with any questions.
THANKS
Jeff

jadevine@optonline.net

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"This ain't football. We do this every day."
--Earl Weaver