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.
“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.”
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.