"A New York Treasure" --Village Voice

News of the Day – 3/23/09

Much to discuss . . . so let’s go:

  • Could Kei Igawa be pitching his way towards a trade, to a team that wants him?:

Including a three-inning outing against Team Canada on March 5, Igawa has scattered seven hits in seven spring appearances, striking out 11. The outcome has drawn interest — during the Yankees’ game at Fort Myers, Fla., on Friday, professional scouts in attendance were said to be asking specifically about Igawa.

“He’s had a heck of a spring,” Cashman said. “He seems assertive, he’s moving fast and he’s throwing strikes. He’s always had good stuff. His command hasn’t been there. Now he’s showing stuff with commitment.”

Some of Igawa’s success may be due to the fact he is facing some batters who will not begin the season on big league rosters. There is little left to prove at the lower levels for Igawa, who was 14-6 with a 3.45 ERA in 26 games (24 starts) for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre last year.

  • Jorge Posada is showing further progress in his recovery from shoulder surgery:

In the surest sign yet that Jorge Posada’s surgically repaired right shoulder will be prepared for Opening Day, the Yankees catcher unloaded strong throws to cut down three baserunners on Sunday.

Continuing to strengthen his shoulder, the 37-year-old Posada received CC Sabathia in a Minor League game against Pirates prospects, nabbing three of four potential basestealers with clean tosses to second base.

“You can’t compare what I was feeling last year,” Posada said. “I couldn’t do that. I couldn’t make three throws like that. It’s good to be back.”

  • CC Sabathia seems to be adjusting quite well to his new teammates:

Beginning the process to combat Spring Training downtime, the left-hander stepped into a role of group organizer, his cohesive personality drawing the Bombers together for dinners and courtside seats at Orlando Magic games.

“I don’t know if I’m a leader,” Sabathia said. “I like to hang out with my teammates. I like to get to know them. Going to Magic games and going out to eat, I just feel like that’s something guys on the same team should always do. If I’m a leader in that regard, I guess. But I’m just trying to get to know my guys.”

  • Richard Sandomir writes about Jim Kaat’s return to the broadcast booth.
  • At LoHud, PeteAbe posts a Q&A with Joba Chamberlain, with the questions coming from readers, including this snippet:

Kirsten writes:: Your career has moved at a much faster pace, more so than that of most younger players. If you could go back and give advice to your 2007 self, what would you say?

Joba: “Slow things down. They’re so … especially in New York, things are going so fast. I did a terrible job my first year of slowing things down. Not so much on the field but probably off the field. You’ve just got to be happy for the situation but slow a lot of things down.”

  • Over at the Biz of Baseball, Maury Brown does the number-crunching on single game ticket pricing:

Attending games during the inaugural season at the new Yankee Stadium will be decidedly elitist as the club today released single game prices for tickets that go on sale Tuesday. Seats in the first row behind home plate will come in at a staggering $2,625, a record price by a considerable margin for MLB, and some of the highest in the history of professional sports. The steep prices seem to fly in the face of other pricing across sports given the current economic recession.

But, it is not just the seats behind home plate that push the envelop for prices. The Legends section (see the dark blue which runs from section 11-29), which includes 122 seats that ring from nearly foul pole to foul pole, run from the $2,625 to $525.

. . . the average ticket price will be over $160. With the suites included, the average price for single game tickets is over $237.

[My take: That’s an average of  $17.80 to $26.33 per inning.]

Since Jason Bay can also be a free agent at the end of this season, Holliday could be pursued by the Red Sox; yes, everyone in baseball has six degrees of separation from pitching coach John Farrell, and Farrell was Tom Holliday’s pitching coach at Oklahoma State and has known Matt since he was a little kid. There are scouts who believe Holliday’s natural center/right-center power is best suited for Yankee Stadium. Many feel he will be a prime target of the Angels as Vladimir Guerrero becomes a free agent. But right now, Holliday is more interested in Oakland’s pursuit of the Angels.

Yankees general manager Brian Cashman lauded Hughes’ work this spring, but said the team would be doing a disservice to keep him in camp. The 22-year-old righty will continue preparing as a starting pitcher and could be among the first considered if there is an opportunity in New York.

“I told him that he had a great camp and to keep working,” Cashman said. “We told him about all the things that we saw and what he needs to continue to work on. He’s in a great frame of mind. He knows he did great here, but he also knows that it’s not in his best interest to now be held back.”

[My take: I would have preferred Chris Iannetta . . . or even Chris Hoiles.]

  • Even big league managers like getting autographs.
  • “Hey buddy . . . yeah I’m talking to you . . . want some grass? . . . high-quality stuff . . . the stuff the Yanks use.”:

Yankees Sod will be available at New York City-area Home Depot stores near the end of the month. A patch a little bigger than five square feet — 16 inches by 4 feet — will cost $7.50, Mr. Andres said. It may cost a few thousand dollars to cover a large backyard, but the sod comes with a certificate of authenticity from Major League Baseball, complete with the counterfeit-proof hologram, declaring it to be the official grass of the New York Yankees.

Yankees Grass Seed will also be available, in gift-friendly novelty sizes of three ounces and eight ounces, at Yankee Stadium and other places. Home Depot will carry bigger bags of seed.

  • On this date in 1974, the Yankees purchase outfielder Elliott Maddox from the Texas Rangers for $60,000. Maddox proved to be a great defensive outfielder as well as hitting .303 during the season.

[My take: Bobby Murcer was none too pleased about this acquisition.]

  • On this date in 1990, Howard Spira is arrested for extorting money from Yankees owner George Steinbrenner, who paid Spira $40,000 in January.

Categories:  Diane Firstman  News of the Day

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1 JL25and3   ~  Mar 23, 2009 8:37 am

We're marching to a faster pace...

2 williamnyy23   ~  Mar 23, 2009 8:39 am

I hope the scouts weren't watching Igawa walk 4 men yesterday.

I am surprised to see such shoddy analysis from Brown on the ticket prices. Using an average price when there are significant outliers isn't a mistake that a high school stats student would make. Instead, a median price would be much more relevant. There are plenty of affordable tickets in the stadium, and judging by the pre-sale, a fair share should be available on Tuesday. Also, there seem to be a few bargain days as well. I lucked into a game against the Nationals with $5 non-obstructed bleacher seats, for example.

3 williamnyy23   ~  Mar 23, 2009 8:55 am

For those who care about the event, Jim Caple (http://tinyurl.com/cun4lc) does an excellent job running through all the gaffes committed by Davey Jonson last night. You could even add a few more to his list, but still, the article clearly illustrates how poorly managed the U.S. team was. I’d rather send the reigning College World Champions next time around if the professional players and organizations refuse to take the tournament seriously.

4 Bum Rush   ~  Mar 23, 2009 9:18 am

refuse to take the tournament seriously

Yeah, next time the Yankees should just send CC, Burnett, and Teixeira in addition to Jeter and A-Rod. I mean, they should absolutely take a bunch of exhibition games seriously.

5 Mattpat11   ~  Mar 23, 2009 9:47 am

I'm totally fine with sending Kei Igawa anywhere else.

Bought my first three sets of tickets today. Was hoping for opening day, but I got the Sox and Mets and I'm just sort of happy to actually be going with how the Yankees bumbled the hell out of the new Stadium tickets.

6 Chyll Will   ~  Mar 23, 2009 9:49 am

Curt Schilling has left the building... (slow upload due to mucho traffic as of 10:45am)

7 a.O   ~  Mar 23, 2009 9:51 am

Well, they should either take it seriously or stop playing in it. I mean, who likes things done half-assed?

Personally, I love the WBC. Bud is not often right, but he probably is right when he says it will continue to grow in popularity, perhaps despite him. Have you seen how bad the latin players and the Asian players, hell perhaps everyone other than the Americans, want to win? I predict that players are simply going to start working out earlier in WBC years -- at least, players who actually want to win the tournament.

Guys get hurt in Spring Training every year. It's just part of the game. People need to get over that.

8 williamnyy23   ~  Mar 23, 2009 9:56 am

[4] Sarcasm doesn't really inspire dialogue.

[7] Exactly. And, taking it seriously doesn't mean requiring that everyone play. It means making sure those who do sign up are well prepared and used properly.

9 Mattpat11   ~  Mar 23, 2009 9:57 am

Is Caple suggesting that we should not only send active major league players to the Bud Games, but an active manager should be removed from his team during Spring Training as well?

10 williamnyy23   ~  Mar 23, 2009 9:59 am

[9] It didn't seem like he suggested that. You don't need to send an active manager, but you could send a minor league manager, more recent (and younger) manager like a Showalter or even an aspiring manager who interviews for the job and seems to exhibit good qualities. Simply plucking someone out of retirement doesn't seem like an optimal approach.

11 Mattpat11   ~  Mar 23, 2009 10:09 am

I think some people, including myself, see a big difference between getting hurt while working with your team and getting hurt trying to rid the world of EVIL FOREIGNERS like Lenny DiNardo or the Hairston Brothers or whatever the hell the point of this tournament is.

If Derek Jeter blew out his knee in a spring training game where he was working with his new first baseman, that's part of the game. He he blows out his knee defending America against, well, Americans, in dogged pursuit of the coveted Bud Cup, he may as well have fallen down a flight of stairs for all the good it did the Yankees.

12 Mattpat11   ~  Mar 23, 2009 10:10 am

Damnit. My link didn't work. That was addressed to [7]

13 williamnyy23   ~  Mar 23, 2009 10:23 am

[11] Again, while you may interpret the WBC as "ridding th world of evil foreigners", I am pretty sure that most everyone else doesn't see it that way.

The bottom line is the WBC is heavily promoted by MLB. Also, every team but the U.S. seems to take it very seriously. If the U.S. team decides this is just a glorified exhibition then it should not participate. Otherwise, it should make every reasonable effort to win the tournament.

I also don't see the distinction in where a player is injured. As long as players aren't asked to do anything unreasonable, there shouldn't be a high level of concern about injury. The position players don't even play every day, so if anything, their exposure is less. With the picth count rules, even that risk is mitigated, but if that is the big hang-up, I'd be more than happy watching college or minor league kids take the mound. This way, they could join a pre-WBC camp around January to get into shape and then take a few weeks off afterwards to recover before their seasons begin.

14 ny2ca2dc   ~  Mar 23, 2009 10:59 am

What would really be wrong with having more minor leaguers play in the WBC for team USA? I think that would be cool, and would let guys like maybe Ian Kennedy some time against good competition. It's not like he's missing a shot at a rotation slot. I still think you'd want some stars, but why not the American version of Juan Miranda, no doubt some guy kicking around the minors (Josh Phelps?) who would've been worth having on the USA WBC roster.

I also wonder if the failures of team USA and Dominican have opened up space for the other teams to do well and perhaps spurred interest in those countries (e.g. Netherlands)? If this tournament is seen as a joke in the US but grows interest in the game internationally, isn't that a pretty good result? Isn't growth internationally the primary objective?

Not that any of that excuses the managerial idiocy, mind you!

15 williamnyy23   ~  Mar 23, 2009 11:24 am

[14] Nothing...I would like to see the U.S. have a January mini-camp to prepare for the WBC. If major leaguers aren't willing to sacrifice their off season, then maybe minor leaguers and college players would.

I do agree that the lack of dominance by the MLB powerhouses is good for the tournament, but that doesn't mean teams with major leaguers shouldn't and couldn't be more prepared. Ultimately, what will give the WBC the most integrity is the feeling that all participants take it seriously.

Having expressed all the complaints above, a competent manager probably would have been enough to overcome the U.S. lack of preparation. Johnson was truly brutal.

16 ms october   ~  Mar 23, 2009 11:51 am

i hvae warmed up to the idea of the wbc existing, and there were some really exciting, mostly well-played games that i really enjoyed watching.
but i am not sure logistically it will ever make much sense or work out. i'm really not sure if baseball is suited for this type of tournament.
one issue is obvioulsy when to play it, but also baseball is meant to be played as a series and without a lot of off days.
i personally lost interest as the wbc went on as it took too long and there were too many "meaningless" games - there was not enough rythym.
also, the format allows a situation where japan and korea play in the finals for what seems like the 20th time.

17 monkeypants   ~  Mar 23, 2009 12:03 pm

[16] I agree. Organizers of the WBC will always be hamstrung because, despite loud cheering on this blog, the tournament is simply not important. As such, MLB is not going to rearrange its regular season to accommodate the WBC (for example, take a big break in the middle of the season, or even shorten the season every three years), nor will MLB teams be very willing to allow their best players--especially those with ANY injury concern--to play in it. The WBC is simply not the World Cup, whose importance is such that teams at various professional levels are willing--indeed happy--to work around it.

Now, Bud could try to strong arm the league if he is really serious about the WBC. Indeed, he is making all the right noises about players and organizations taking it serious. But let's see if he actually tries to come up with rules to force teams to take the WBC more seriously (think "This time it counts").

18 Rich   ~  Mar 23, 2009 12:22 pm

There is nothing that I want to be more wrong about than Posada's (in)ability to effectively catch 100+ games.

19 rbj   ~  Mar 23, 2009 12:49 pm

I enjoy the WBC. These are meaningful games to at least some players and teams, as opposed to ST games where a pitcher may just be working on one thing. Besides, it's fun watching the Dutch team beat the Dominicans, in terms of a David slaying a Goliath.

20 williamnyy23   ~  Mar 23, 2009 1:34 pm

[17] Your statement is (currently) correct, but only as it pertains to the U.S. Either the U.S. needs to make a more serious commitment, which I would advocate because I think international play in baseball could reach the level of the World Cup in soccer, or they need to use a player pool that can commitment to the tournament (i.e., minor leaguers or college players). Personally, I wouldn't mind the latter if it meant a full commitment. For at least the next couple of tournaments, I am sure MLB will keep trying to split the baby, which will likely mean the tournament's popularity outside the U.S. will pale in comparison to the the Asian and Latin nations.

21 Shaun P.   ~  Mar 23, 2009 2:02 pm

[20] william, so what if the tournament is (much) more popular in Asia and Central/South America and the Caribbean? Isn't that the point, to grow baseball internationally? In that regard, the WBC is a ridiculously huge success.

Am the only person who thinks its a good thing if the US doesn't win? Who doesn't cares if the US wins? (Though I prefer to not see horrible managing anywhere, even in exhibitions.) I can watch every one of the US players play constantly. I'd much rather see the non-MLB players from the other countries, because the WBC is my only chance to watch them play. The more chances I get to see them, the better. Further, I hope the US doesn't take it more seriously. IMHO, within the US, the WBC should never be more important than the MLB season and the World Series.

I think the format should be changed, to eliminate all the downtime as much as possible, and so the MLB players in the tournament can get their work in, but otherwise I have no complaints about the WBC. Davey Johnson and Luis Sojo's poor managing is another story.

22 monkeypants   ~  Mar 23, 2009 2:38 pm

[20] The issue is not whether or not "the US" makes a bigger commitment. Rather, the real issue is that the WBC is less important--and will be for a long, long time--than MLB, despite what a few players may have shouted in their enthusiasm. MLB may only be a paycheck for the Latin players, but I have a feeling in a player had to choose between signing a fat contract and playing for his country, most would choose the former.

If MLB organizations are unwilling to cooperate--allowing their star players to participate or agreeing to some sort of reorganization of the MLB schedule--then the WBC will always be wedged in during spring training, with rules put in place that privilege protecting players (strict pitch counts) over competition, with many players opting out, and with more and more teams (I speculate) having their players sign contracts with clauses preventing participation in such events.

[20] I agree that in the US the WBC should never be as important as the MLB season or WS. But this is precisely why the WBC will never grow into the World Cup: MLB holds all of the leverage. As long as MLB is more important, then the WBC will have to accommodate MLB. Unless the organizers of the WBC will have to go all of the way in the other direction and simply organize a tournament with little or no thought whatsoever to the MLB. But that would mean risking that many of the best players in the world would not play because their primary commitment would be to MLB.

[20] I am not sure the evidence is in to prove that the WBC has been a "ridiculous success" in growing the game internationally. The event seems to be rather popular in places where baseball is already popular. I watch Italian TV every day and saw absolutely no sign of the WBC. This being said, we would have to wait several years before even beginning to comment on the success or failure of the WBC.

23 The Hawk   ~  Mar 23, 2009 3:10 pm

That Rascal Flats/Jay Z combination really further endears Chamberlain to me.

24 cult of basebaal   ~  Mar 23, 2009 5:28 pm

as someone who was at the game last night, to read that johnson inserted Longoria instead of Granderson in the 8th because he was "hoping for a homerun", is just about the most damning move of the entire game.

what the US absoutely NEEDED at that point was to get the run in from 3rd with only 1 out.

the flags in Dodger stadium were flat out STIFF from the wind that was blowing L to R and was strong enough to be obviously bending palm trees in the background.

expecting a RHB to hit a homerun to left in those circumstances was LUDICROUS.

plus the Jeter v Rollins start at shortstop and the continuing misadventures of Adam "Beached Whale" Dunn in RF essentially cost the US the game.

well, at least I get the Japan v Korea matchup I wanted in the finals tonite ... Row F (non-vip) section behind home, baby!

25 williamnyy23   ~  Mar 23, 2009 8:15 pm

[21] Don't get me wrong...I am not suggesting that the U.S.' failure in the WBC is a blight on MLB or the nation. Still, as an American who loves baseball, I would like to see our country commit more fully to the tournament. I don't think success by the U.S. in any way would diminish the tournament's global popularity, but I think continued apathy very well could. Having the "best" teams take the tournament seriously can only enhance and prolong its popularity.

I also don't agree with the statement that " the WBC should never be more important than the MLB season and the World Series". Again as a baseball fan of ridiculous proportions, I would love to see the WBC approach the World Cup in terms of stature, and would be even happier to see baseball grow immensely in global popularity. Would I take the chance of potentially sacrificing a Yankee season or two for that outcome...absolutely (and that is not something I say lightly).

[22] Make no mistake about it…just about every patriot quickly becomes a scoundrel when their own best interests contrast against the good of their country. All that cynicism aside, I still think there is a certain honor in representing one’s nation.

As I mentioned before, unless American fans demand it, I absolutely do not think teams should be pressured to allow players to participate. If MLB players do not want to commit, so be it. Instead, I’d rather have the U.S. construct their roster of players who are fully committed to winning the tournament.

If the United States continues to treat the tournament as a glorified exhibition, I think MLB’s control over the WBC will evaporate. Eventually, it would make more sense for an international body to swoop in on the heels of the WBC’s success and hold a competing tournament. If the United States isn’t going to commit to the tournament, than the tournament doesn’t need the United States.

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