Today’s news is powered by a nice video tribute to Lou Gehrig:
- Let’s start with 2 trivia questions (only one Yankee-related). 1) Who was the first pitcher to win a Gold Glove and a Silver Slugger in the same season? 2) Who was the last player to hit into four DPs in one game. (answer at the end of the column)
- Kat O’Brien of Newsday notes how close the Yanks came to NOT getting Mark Teixeira:
Up and down the Yankees’ organization, from Johnny Damon and Jorge Posada to Joe Girardi and Hal Steinbrenner, the sentiment on Mark Teixeira early in the offseason was that he would be playing elsewhere in 2009.
Steinbrenner, the last word in ownership, had the power to change that if he wanted to sign Teixeira. But the Yankees were locked in on pitching, to the point that Teixeira was not on the agenda.
“Teixeira never was really an option,” Cashman said. “It was something I kept pushing, but it was not really being accepted by above me . . . I guess persistence paid off. I knocked on that door, I guess, just enough that someone finally answered. Hal really gave me the OK to pursue it over a few-day period. And at that point, I still thought the Red Sox were getting him.”
- Bob Klapisch has seen A.J. Burnett, and likes what he sees:
A tough, John Wayne-type, Burnett doesn’t do team therapy, and he stops short of calling himself an ace, but talent evaluators will nevertheless tell you the 32-year-old right-hander is by far the Yankees’ most intimidating pitcher.
Burnett has the stuff (96-mph heat), the guts (he threw that decisive curve with the bases loaded and a full count) and the stoic nature to lead the Yankees. He’s quiet, but not in a meek, Chien-Ming Wang sort of way. Fierce, but not on the dangerous roller coaster that Kevin Brown used to ride.
- Joel Sherman has some thoughts on the Captain:
It is only three games, but Derek Jeter has seemed to think more like a leadoff hitter in this go-around in the spot. He has shown a greater willingness to work the count. His career norm is to see about 3.7 pitches per at-bat, but that is 4.1 so far this year and what has stood out is a few at-bats where he was down in the count quickly and still generated a long turn at-bat.
The other element that has stood out with Jeter is that he has seemed to lose a step or two running to first base. He has hit some slow rollers that memory suggests he beat out in the past and now he was clearly out at first base.
- Meanwhile, PeteAbe is similarly concerned about Hideki Matsui:
Hideki Matsui is 1 for 14. That one hit was a home run, but still.
I know it’s only four games, but is this a concern? He’s also running to first base like he needs a walker.
[My take: So we’ve got our own version of Edgar Martinez?]
- PeteAbe does have some happier news . . .:
The bullpen over the last three games: 10 innings 0 hits, 0 runs, 3 walks, 12 strikeouts.
- Alex Rodriguez update . . . (absolutely no mirror-preening included):
Alex Rodriguez is to resume baseball activities Monday, more than a month following hip surgery on March 9.
The third baseman has been working out in Vail, Colo., since the operation. The Yankees start a three-game series Monday at the AL champion Tampa Bay Rays, and Yankees manager Joe Girardi said the three-time AL MVP will resume swinging a bat after he reports to the team’s minor league complex.
Girardi said Friday that Rodriguez has been swinging a broom for the past few weeks and slowly increasing his workload.
- Joe Girardi is happy with the early-season performance of Robinson Cano:
When Cano is on, everything seems to be a whistling line drive. He hits to all fields, anchoring the lower part of the order. He seems interested, more than anything, taking four walks already. That’s usually how many he draws in a month.
“A lot of patience at the plate, swinging at pitches he can handle and he can drive, and working the count,” Girardi said. “I think I’m most pleased by the four walks he has. That’s great, because Robby’s a dangerous hitter when he swings at good pitches.”
- Mohegan Sun says “don’t blame us” for the obstructed views in the bleachers:
“We don’t want to be held responsible for the impact the facility has on the view of seats there,”(Mohegan Sun president Mitchell) Etess said . . .
“We had no say in the construction of the stadium, and I’m certain that this was designed long before we made the deal.” The Mohegan Sun has nothing to do with the running or the profits of the sports bar; it only has its name on it.
Etess said it wasn’t until recently — “along with everyone else” — that he learned the sports bar was part of the bleacher protrusion that will obscure the views of up to 1,048 fans. . . .
Alice McGillion, a Yankees spokeswoman, said Etess almost certainly was not told of the shadow that would be caused by the sports bar/bleacher cafe. “Since there are no obstructed seats in the Mohegan Sun Sports Bar, it wouldn’t necessarily have come up,” she said.
But the reality that the Mohegan’s name would be on the 4,900-square-foot sports bar that blocks fans’ views is a material fact that should have been disclosed by the Yankees and also pursued by the hotel-casino — especially because it’s not cheap to buy the naming rights.
- CC Sabathia is dropping $15 million on his Yankee base of operations . . . in Alpine, N.J.:
The 12,000-square-foot mansion on 2 acres was on the market for less than two weeks. Sabathia, 28, paid all cash for his dream house, where he’ll live with wife, Amber, and their three kids. The ‘hood boasts neighbors like Sean Combs, Mary J. Blige, Stevie Wonder, Chris Rock and Britney Spears.
[My take: Roll that around your brain for a moment . . . $15 million . . . all cash.]
- Ben Kubiak of River Ave. Blues isn’t too fond of the new stadium:
New Yankee Stadium is all about exclusion. Throughout the stadium, intermingled with the broad concourses and seating sections, are exclusive areas. There are restaurants that cater only to people who are ticketed for those sections. Get to close and an overanxious security guard will eye you suspiciously while awaiting a ticket stub to confirm that, yes, you actually do belong here.
Even on the upper level of the stadium, exclusivity is the rule. While everyone is free to wander the corridors, only patrons sitting in the Terrace MVP seats can get into the exclusive Jim Beam sports bar. And lest the Yankees employ subtlety, all of the exclusive restaurants have floor-to-ceiling windows so those without access can see what they’re missing.
[My take: I’m interested in seeing the new stadium . . . at least once. Whether its a place I’ll want to come back to (or be able to afford to come back to) may be another story.]
- Happy 29th birthday to Mark Teixeira. Fun fact: Against pitchers he’s faced 25 or more times, his highest batting average is against . . . Andy Pettitte (.478, 11-27).
- On this date in 1954, to make room for promising rookie outfielder Wally Moon, the St. Louis Cardinals trade longtime great Enos Slaughter to the New York Yankees in exchange for four minor leaguers, including future National League Rookie of the Year Bill Virdon.
- Trivia answers: 1) Mike Hampton (2003); 2) Joe Torre (July 21, 1975)
Back on Monday . . .