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News of the Day – 11/25/08

While pondering whether the Yanks can amend A-Rod’s contract to include a “no Madonna/Kabbalah” clause under the auspices of “the Player’s participation in certain other sports may impair or destroy his ability and skill as a baseball player”, I stopped long enough to give you this news:

  • Tyler Kepner of the Times spoke with Yanks hitting coach Kevin Long about Robinson Cano and A-Rod.  Long believes A-Rod’s slightly down year was due to personal issues, while Cano has fixed his swing and taken more responsibility for his conditioning.

On A-Rod:

“To say that what he went through in his personal life didn’t affect what he did on the baseball field, I think you’d be hard-pressed for it not to affect anything,” Long said. “But he seems to be moving forward and doing great. He sees his daughters all the time, and he seems to be doing O.K.”

“I can’t even imagine going through a divorce in the middle of a season and trying to compete at the highest level. He was able to do a good job, but there were days last year when you could just tell he had a lot on his mind. He’d be looking through you, and not completely focused like I’d seen him. You try to push that to the side for a couple of hours and do the best you can, but it’s easier said than done.”

On Cano:

Canó also made an important mechanical adjustment, scrapping the open stance he had lapsed into and reducing the movement before his swing. Long said he knew the swing would be in order when he visited Canó for six days during the week of Nov. 9, but he had no idea Canó would be in such good shape.

“He’s got a personal trainer, and he’s probably down to 10 or 11 percent body fat,” Long said. “This kid is focused, he’s determined. I’ve never seen him like this. His arms are cut, his stomach is cut. He’s doing hitting, throwing, agility work — and these workouts at night, I watched them, and they’re grueling. I told him I was so proud of him.”

Canó still needs better knowledge of the strike zone, Long said, and to work deeper counts.

  • In a separate article, Kepner wonders if the Yanks have enough offense right now, assuming Cano bounces back and Matsui and Posada are healthy.  Kepner also offers up a projected lineup.
  • The A.J. Burnett sweepstakes still appears to have six ticket-holders, according to BaltimoreSun.com.  The six are the Orioles, Yanks, Red Sox, Phillies, Braves and Blue Jays.
  • Don’t worry about possibly seeing Odalis Perez in pinstripes next year.  MLBTradeRumors reports that the Yanks were one of three teams to make him an offer, but he’ll most likely sign a multi-year deal with the Nationals.

  • Wallace Matthews at Newsday wonders if Sabathia really wants to pitch for the Yankees after all.

Maybe, you might think, Sabathia really doesn’t want to play in New York. Or live here. Or subject himself to the daily scrutiny, the blaring headlines, the braying talk-radio hosts, the impossible-to-satisfy expectations of the fans. Maybe, having gotten a taste of the good life in the NL – he started 9-0 as a Brewer – he’d rather not return to a league where you never get to face a pitcher.

And you wonder if, despite Sabathia’s age (28), record of success and evident strength of character, he and the Yankees might not be such an ideal fit after all.

One needn’t go too far back in Yankees history ( Randy Johnson, anyone?) to understand exactly what I’m talking about.

With their checkbook, the Yankees sent a strong message to Sabathia: We want you here. Badly.

With his silence, perhaps CC Sabathia sends an even stronger one back.

  • Newsday’s Ken Davidoff notes that the Bombers are making contingency plans if they don’t land any of the top three FA pitchers.
  • Over at BP.com, Joe Sheehan makes a convincing argument for Mike Mussina’s inclusion in the Hall, especially over Jack Morris:
Hurler    W   L    Pct.  ERA   ERA+    IP      K   PRAA   PRAR
Mussina  270 153  .638  3.68   123  3,562.2  2813   312   1302
Morris   254 186  .577  3.90   105  3,824.0  2478   -52    897

In wins and winning percentage, the areas where Morris is supposed to be strongest, Mussina beats him handily. I would not at all build a case for Mussina on these data points, but the comparison to Morris makes the point that even in Morris’ best categories, Mussina is the better choice. When you look deeper into the record… it gets ugly. Mussina prevented more than 400 additional runs than Morris did, or about 24 per 200 innings over the course of their careers. That’s the difference between a number one starter and a number two starter, not just in one season, but in every season for 17 years.

It’s the difference between belonging in the Hall of Fame and not.

Put another way, Morris had Mussina’s career… and then he threw another 260 innings and allowed about 256 runs. You can’t set replacement level low enough to make that valuable, which is one reason why Mussina’s edge over Morris becomes larger (405 runs) when you compare to replacement rather than average (364 runs). The differences between the two in Morris’ favor are usage patterns, run support, and bullpen support. Mussina did his job—preventing the other team from scoring—better than Morris ever did.

  • MarketWatch.com has word of Delta Air Lines becoming the “Official Airline of the New York Yankees”, and it comes with some nice perks for Delta:
… as the exclusive sponsor of the Delta Sky360 Suite, the airline will offer Suite holders an opportunity to sample the world-class Delta brand and customer experience. The Suite encompasses the nine sections of the Main Level directly behind home plate, and its elevated position allows for some of the best views of the field in Yankee Stadium …
In addition to the Delta Sky360 Suite, Delta’s signature presence at Yankee Stadium will include a permanent scoreboard advertisement in left field; home plate and baseline rotational signage; HD centerfield scoreboard and Terrace Level LED branding; and print advertisements in Yankees publications. The Delta Sky360 Suite will offer Suite holders the opportunity to experience elements of the Delta brand firsthand, such as access to a computer station to sign up for Delta’s SkyMiles Frequent Flier Program, Crown Room Club membership and more.
  • New arrival Nick Swisher turns 28 today.  Happy 35th birthday to Octavio Dotel.  Mark Whiten reaches 42.  Fan fave Bucky Dent turns 57.
  • Joe DiMaggio would have been 94 today.
  • On this date in 1970, Thurman Munson receives 23 of 24 1st-place votes and is named AL Rookie of the Year. Munson batted .302 during the season. Cleveland Indians outfielder Roy Foster is also named on a first place ballot.

Categories:  Diane Firstman  News of the Day

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1 OldYanksFan   ~  Nov 25, 2008 9:24 am

Great stuff. The news about Cano is excellent. If he is truly maturing as a person, this is the best thing that can happen to the ball player.

I wish the media would get off ARod's back. Hey... I got divorced and had a GF after. Nobody wrote about me in a newspaper. Is a man getting a divorce really news? A man having a GF? And realistically, if you consider the huge choice of women ARod could have, and instead he chooses a woman 20 years older then himself, this tells me there is something real and deep about their relationship.

I think the real story of ARod is a great one. A boy abandoned by his father, who as a man, is trying to deal with the residue. A man who is often called 'the best player in the game', with a 10 years contract... and yet he continues to push himself to be better, work like a dog, run hard and play hard everyday. This is a man who is driven.... and in a good direction.

Imagine what we the fans, would have seen from Mickey, if Mantle took this approach. And what about Junior, who is probably more talented then ARod. What might Junior have accomplished if he had ARod's disipline and drive. How about Cano? We know the kid is talented. What if he has an apiphany, and goes the ARod route. What will we get to see from Robbie.

So... the news is ARod is a flawed human being... unlike myself, you all, and the writers who write about him? To me, in many ways, ARod is an example of what makes greatness. Of disipline and drive to achieve even beyond his God given talents. There have been many stronger guys in baseball. Many better hitters... many greater talents. Yet it is ARod who we look to to break 800 HRs, and destroy many other records along the way.

Why is the media and many fans so hellbent on tearing this guy down?
I don't get it.

2 Raf   ~  Nov 25, 2008 10:56 am

Meanwhile, over in Pittsburgh...

Pirates gamble on raw talents with million-dollar arms
"PITTSBURGH -- The Pittsburgh Pirates hope Rinku Singh and Dinesh Patel really do have million-dollar arms.

The two 20-year-old pitchers, neither of whom had picked up a baseball until earlier this year, signed free-agent contracts Monday with the Pirates. They are believed to be the first athletes from India to sign professional baseball contracts outside their country.

Singh and Patel came to the United States six months ago after being the top finishers in an Indian reality TV show called the "Million Dollar Arm" that drew about 30,000 contestants. The show sought to find athletes who could throw strikes at 85 miles per hour or faster."

3 theplacesyoullgo   ~  Nov 25, 2008 11:31 am

[1] I think there are a plethora of reasons why A-Rod isn't as popular as he "should" or could be, but the main one is that he just isn't a very convincing sympathetic character. We might sympathize with someone going through a difficult divorce, but A-Rod isn't just going through a difficult divorce, he's out trying to chase Madonna. He claims not to want the spotlight for anything off-the-field, but he dates a pop superstar, can't effectively handle his WBC decision, and is less than discreet when having an affair with a stripper.

Also, the money thing. It's hard to sympathize with anyone who has the biggest contract in the game when they don't have a certain personal likableness about them. A-Rod isn't charismatic.

4 OldYanksFan   ~  Nov 25, 2008 12:24 pm

".... he’s out trying to chase Madonna."
Jeter is bagging half the young starletts in Hollywood. It's estimated that well more then 50% of both married men and women have affairs.
ARod is with a women TWENTY YEARS OLDER who happens to be into an old form of Judaism. He likes Madonna. Why is this chasing? Why is this so special? So bad? So newsworthy?
"....claims not to want the spotlight for anything off-the-field, but he dates a pop superstar"
I see. He's a terrible person who happens to be very famous, and he's seeing another famous person. This is a terrible thing? In order to be a 'nice person', we the fans should dictate whom he's allowed to date... to have as a friend or lover?

".... can’t effectively handle his WBC decision"
Well.... at first he though he would, and then decided against it. This is a high crime indeed.

".... and is less than discreet when having an affair with a stripper"
Ah... you know for a fact he was having an affair? This is not an assumption of your part, is it? And you want him to be discreet? Like needing to charter a helicoptor to take you to a remote friend's house, so you can spend a few hours with someone? Oh that's right, somehow that made the news too. It's kind of hard to 'be discreet' when hundreds of people make a living hounding your every move,

"...who has the biggest contract"
Jeter, Giambi, Manny, Zito, Sori, Santana, soon CC and Tex, and a number of others make pretty good money TO PLAY BASEBALL. In terms of effort and production, I'd say ARod earns his money moreso then most.

".... when they don’t have a certain personal likableness about them. A-Rod isn’t charismatic."
Again guy, another high crime. Terribble. He is NOT charismatic. Ergo, we hate him and look for every single opportunity to trash him.

So, without anything to do with baseball, and interms of his personal life which is really nobody's business but his own, basically what you say is that there are certain people he can't see without our approval (Madonna or a stripper), he can't ever change his mind on a relatively minor decision (even if this happened due to external pressures), and he's not charismatic.

Is it possible your post is the very definition of NOT what is wrong with ARod, but with the 'fans' and press around him? You might as well hate him for having 10 fingers and 10 toes, because the things your stated simply make him as human as all the rest of us.

5 theplacesyoullgo   ~  Nov 25, 2008 12:52 pm

[4] Wow, you are ridiculously defensive of Alex Rodriguez. Frankly, A-Rod's foaming-at-the-mouth defenders are far too emotionally invested in how people perceive his personality. I was simply pointing out some of the reasons why people generally don't take to him well. I never said the reasons were logical, but human behavior is often not entirely logical and rational. People like charismatic people, and he's not one. People like people to whom they can relate, and he's not one. It's human nature, and as much as you'd like to argue with the logic behind it and pick apart every sentence I write, it's not going to change.

As for all the personal attacks, I'll only say that I couldn't care less who A-Rod (or any player, for that matter) is sleeping with or what team he plays for in the WBC. I, personally, simply don't care. However, all of that feeds into how he's perceived by the public - again, "logical" or not, and whether you think it should or not.

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