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News of the Day – 12/24/08
Posted By Diane Firstman On December 24, 2008 @ 8:34 am In Diane Firstman,News of the Day | Comments Disabled
Powered by “A Charlie Brown Ad Agency “, here’s the news:
He’s probably the best defensive player relative to his position on the Yankees now, and could be one of only two or three who are above average depending on how the rest of the roster shakes out. He adds significant power to a lineup that had just two players slug over .500 this past year, and his .410 OBP in 2008 would have led the Yankees by 18 points.
Coupled with the loss of Jason Giambi, the signing of Teixeira means a net gain to the Yankees of four to five wins, considering both his bat and his defense. He also eliminates the need the Yankees had for a right-handed caddy for Giambi, since Teixeira is a true switch-hitter with power and patience from both sides of the plate. The Yanks still have to find a solution in center field, unless they decide to give Melky Cabrera the job again and live with the consequences if he continues to struggle. However, if they re-sign Andy Pettitte, they’re just about done.
This is about winning, folks! And I’m not talking about the stretch of seasons from 2001 to 2007 when the Yankees won a minimum of 94 games, before settling for 89 wins this past fall. I’m talking about the world championships those Red Sox captured this decade. The titles they would not have captured were it not for a few of those 274 homers Ramirez hit for them over the course of his eight seasons in Boston.
If Ramirez’s production after being traded to the Dodgers on July 31 — .396 batting average, 17 homers, 53 RBIs and .743 slugging percentage in 53 games — wasn’t enough, perhaps it’s worth paying attention to what the Yankees’ offensive output was this past season. …
Now, imagine if Ramirez and his .314 lifetime batting average were lumped into that lineup. Backing up Alex Rodriguez. Acting as a catalyst for Robinson Cano. And Hideki Matsui, Derek Jeter and Jorge Posada. Imagine, for a moment, the run production. The fear it would instill.
[My take: He isn't signing with the Sox, Angels or Rays ... so that's just as good, right? Smith should stick to wondering if LeBron will be the next guy taking a New York team's money.]
It’s difficult to see what the conflict is about. The Yankees need another bat, they need to improve the defense, and they need younger players. Teixeira is all three. Ramirez meets just one of those criteria, and due to his age and his unreliable nature, we don’t know how long he will meet it. There are two gambles here. The smaller is signing Ramirez. The larger is signing Ramirez and thereby enabling Teixeira to go to their division rivals. Doing nothing at all will not suffice. The Yankees need to eat the chocolate or risk running off the road.
With Ramirez, the math is different. As Rob Neyer wrote this week , under normal conditions he’s such an egregiously indifferent outfielder that most metrics see him as being worth about 20 runs below average. Those runs have to be held against his offensive totals, such that if Ramirez is worth about 60 runs over the average player with the bat, after fielding is considered, he’s really only a 40-run advantage — or less than Teixeira. Another way of looking at it is to say that Teixeira adds about five wins over the average player with his bat, then gives his team another with the glove. Ramirez gives his team six wins with the bat, but also contributes two losses with the leather.
… For them it came down to remembering Carlos Beltran vs. Johnny Damon, and forecasting Teixeira vs. Matt Holliday.
The Yankees essentially learned from history. They were in a very similar situation four offseasons ago. At that time, after the 2004 campaign, they also decided upgrading their rotation was the top priority. So when the choice came down to whether to add the high-end lefty starter or the switch-hitting defensive stalwart represented by Scott Boras, the Yankees picked Randy Johnson over Carlos Beltran.
That proved a mistake, and not just because the Big Unit was such a huge disappointment. But because a year later the Yankees had to address the center field issue anyway, and they no longer had someone as gifted as Beltran available. Instead, they had to spend big money on Damon, who quickly proved he was more a left fielder than a center fielder. The repercussions are still being felt: Brett Gardner currently tops the Yankees’ depth chart in center.
Mark Teixeira’s new contract won’t kill baseball, nor will whatever the tattered economy throws at us. I’m not sure if anything can.
The Yankees won 89 games this past season, and they’ve added the best pitcher in the majors and the second-best first baseman. They’re also likely to get more production next year from Robinson Cano, Derek Jeter, Hideki Matsui and Jorge Posada, and Chien-Ming Wang is probably going to (roughly) double his eight wins of this year.
And what have they lost? They’ve lost Mike Mussina, with Andy Pettitte. …
Possible problems for the Yankees? Good luck. They’re not likely to have much speed in the outfield, and the bullpen may be a little soft after the top three, especially from the left side (though rookie Phil Coke was fantastic in September).
But when your biggest problem is that you’ve got too many hitters, you’re probably in good shape. A week ago, the Yankees were merely another of the fine teams in the American League East, no worse but no better than the Red Sox or the Rays. Today, though?…
The caricature of the New York Yankees, drawn by the legions who resent them, is that they are 25 bat-wielding CEOs, dressed in button-down shirts and pinstriped suits, carrying Blackberrys and briefcases into a clubhouse that could double as a board room. They are clean-shaven, image-conscious, supremely wealthy and not a whole lot of fun.
Mark Teixeira will fit right into the caricature. Teammates joke that they have never seen him with a five-o-clock shadow, an un-tucked shirt, a hair out of place. One general manager describes him as “corporate” and “businesslike.” Teixiera describes himself as “obsessive compulsive.” Scott Boras, his agent, says Teixeira has “the make-up of a CEO.” Some may be turned off that Teixeira does not often hang around the clubhouse after games, pounding beers and telling stories. But the Yankees, who pride themselves on their professional work environment, will not mind.
Even though Teixeira grew up in Baltimore, cheering for Cal Ripken Jr. and the Orioles, he is a natural Yankee. As a kid, he patterned himself after Don Mattingly. In high school, he played on some of the same fields as Babe Ruth. He loved the game, but he was also interested in the economics of it, just like any Yankee would be. By the time he was 24, Teixeira was already an assistant player representative to the union.
Alex Rodriguez and Teixeira are now going to be teammates in New York, but they have been linked for some time. Both are represented by Boras, both were teammates on the Rangers and both have remarkable all-around skills, not to mention astronomical contracts. Teixeira and Rodriguez both come across as polished and savvy, though Teixeira is much better at avoiding controversy. Still, neither is outgoing enough to be considered an authentic leader. Despite yet another high-profile signing, Derek Jeter remains the unquestioned captain of the Yankees. Teixeira will be content to follow him.
… I’m sick of having to apologize for loving a team with assets, as if that makes me some sort of “trophy fan” who’s in it strictly for the money. The fact that the Yankees do have money and aren’t afraid to lavish it on the people they care about isn’t so wrong, is it? It’s not as if they’ve roped us all into some giant Ponzi scheme and bled our retirement plans dry.
Actually, I pay no attention to the lifelong, die-hard, truly intransigent Yankees haters. They hate us just for breathing.
But to all the self-loathing Yankees fans that fear their team is buzz-killing the holidays for the denizens of San Diego, Minneapolis and Kansas City? It’s not your fault that the Padres’ owner needs to sell his team; not your fault that the Twins trade away their best players; not your fault that the Royals thought signing Kyle Farnsworth was a smart idea. Sure, you’re tempted to walk the earth in sackcloth apologizing to everyone everywhere, but you’re not responsible for society’s ills. Just get used to the idea that being a Yankees fan means always saying you’re sorry.
“As long as we follow all the rules, which we do, provide hundreds of millions of dollars, as we have over the past several years to other teams, and spearhead enormous revenue to the commissioner’s office, networks and other entities, people should allow us to run our business the way we think is the most appropriate,” Levine said.
Better yet, he was the Red Sox’ primary target this off-season. With the Yankees cutting in Tuesday, landing Teixeira, the only way the Sox could match that kind of offensive impact on the free-agent market would be to take back, ahem, Manny Ramírez. …
…. Teixeira, though, was as good a fit for the Sox as he will be for the Yankees. Had the Sox signed him, they would have moved Kevin Youkilis to third base, freeing them to trade Mike Lowell, soon to be 35, or to use him to strengthen their bench.
After the Sabathia and Burnett signings, it is difficult to fathom how the Red Sox let this happen, no matter how bad the stench is when dealing with Scott Boras. They still have an excellent club, with pitching and balance and young players with upside. They are always calculatingly happy to let the Yankees spend themselves silly to the point of stupid. Maybe that turns out to be the case with one of the pitchers, Burnett being the more logical candidate. But not with Teixeira, 28, beginning what should be his peak years. He is a player the Sox, who do a pretty fair business themselves, should not have conceded to the Yankees for a few extra million.
… full-season ticket licensees will receive complimentary tickets for the first exhibition games to be played in the new Yankee Stadium on April 3-4 vs. the Chicago Cubs, while partial-plan holders will receive the first opportunity to purchase tickets thereafter, via a pre-on-sale (restrictions apply).
Individual-game ticket prices will not exceed $50 for either game. For the inaugural exhibition contests, Bleachers tickets will be priced at 25¢, and Grandstand tickets will be priced at $1.10-the same prices they were on April 18, 1923, the day the original Yankee Stadium opened. Tickets on the Terrace Level will cost between $20-35, tickets on the Main Level will be $20-45, and tickets on the Field Level will range from $45-$50. Remaining tickets, subject to availability, will go on sale to the general public at a date to be determined in the future.
It’s exactly the move they should have made, perhaps as much or more than Sabathia, and I’m glad for them that making their mistake with Burnett didn’t circumscribe their ability to work something out where it might really matter. It seems clear they want to leverage the A-Rod/Jeter/Posada team before having to turn the page, and at eight years and $180M, Tex becomes a key component years after Jeter and Posada are gone.
On some level, I think the fact that Swisher’s always been seen as a very emotional player, and that didn’t fit well with a team that’s run a bit… emotionally. Asking him to play center and then later taking him in and out of the lineup didn’t do him him any favors. Yes, he should be hitting 35 homers, but I really wonder how well he’ll adapt to New York. This isn’t Paul O’Neill we’re talking about.
[My take: Still classy ... even if the "divorce" was a bit messy.]
For the first time in recent memory, the Yankees’ offices will be closed the week between Christmas Day and New Year’s Day; one of the signs of the more measured leadership of Hal Steinbrenner. His father kept the offices open during that week in the past, partly because of what it signaled: The Yankees never rest. To some in the organization, it was false hustle, a needless exercise that took folks away from their families at the holidays.
[Thanks to Cliff and Alex for hooking me up with a couple of links I somehow didn't already have. I think I'm gonna take a nap now. Either that, or get myself checked for carpal tunnel ... LOL]
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URLs in this post:
 A Charlie Brown Ad Agency: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cnxSEg8pQlw
 ESPN.com: http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/news/story?id=3790141
 Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/12/24/sports/baseball/24yankees.html?hp
 MLBTradeRumors: http://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2008/12/yankees-sign-ma.html
 MLB.com: http://mlb.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20081223&content_id=3726572&vkey=hotstove2008&fext=.jsp
 SI.com: http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2008/baseball/mlb/12/23/teixeira/
 YESNetwork: http://web.yesnetwork.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20081223&content_id=1460856&oid=36019&vkey=4
 MLBTradeRumors: http://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2008/12/mark-teixeira-s.html
 ESPN.com: http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/blog/index?entryID=3790592&name=law_keith
 still: http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/hotstove08/columns/story?columnist=smith_stephen&id=3789788
 compared: http://pinstripedbible.mlblogs.com/archives/2008/12/yankees_need_to_eat_the_chocol.html
 piece: http://pinstripedbible.mlblogs.com/archives/2008/12/teixeira_worth_the_money_now_a.html
 Rob Neyer wrote this week: http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/blog/index?name=neyer_rob
 Post: http://www.nypost.com/seven/12232008/sports/yankees/yankees_learned_expensive_lesson_145601.htm
 Rob Neyer: http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/print?id=3790009&type=blogEntry
 MSNBC.com’s: http://atbat.msnbc.msn.com/archive/2008/12/23/1723993.aspx
 here: http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/print?id=3790671&type=blogEntry
 SI.com: http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2008/writers/lee_jenkins/12/23/teixeira.yankees/index.html?eref=T1
 Times: http://bats.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/12/23/loving-the-yankees-means-always-having-to-say-youre-sorry/
 U.S. Steel: http://www.bronxbanterblog.com/2008/12/23/how-to-stop-worrying-and-learn-to-love-us-steel/
 Yahoo!Sports: http://sports.yahoo.com/mlb/news?slug=ap-bigbadyankees&prov=ap&type=lgns
 Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/12/24/sports/baseball/24araton.html?_r=1
 MLB.com’s: http://mlb.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20081223&content_id=3727211&vkey=hotstove2008&fext=.jsp
 MLB.com: http://newyork.yankees.mlb.com/news/press_releases/press_release.jsp?ymd=20081223&content_id=3726525&vkey=pr_nyy&fext=.jsp&c_id=nyy
 BP.com’s: http://www.baseballprospectus.com/chat/chat.php?chatId=557
 video: http://sports.espn.go.com/broadband/video/videopage?categoryId=2521705&brand=null&videoId=3766802&n8pe6c=2
 Bernie news: http://mlb.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20081223&content_id=3726757&vkey=news_mlb&fext=.jsp&c_id=mlb
 Buster Olney: http://insider.espn.go.com/espn/blog/index?entryID=3789345&name=olney_buster
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