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News of the Day – 4/25/09

Today’s news is powered by “how a baseball bat is made”:

For instance, in the decision to acquire Nick Swisher despite a .219 average for the White Sox last year, stats like line-drive percentage and pitches taken were used. “The only stat that was different was batting average when he put the ball in play,” Cashman said, “so we concluded it must have been an unlucky year.”

[My take: Pass the smelling salts . . . a GM quoting BABIP, and interpreting it correctly!  Don’t let Joe Morgan know about this!]

The Yankees placed Chien-Ming Wang on the 15-day disabled list on Friday after the struggling right-hander was diagnosed with weakness in the adductor muscles of both hips. . . .

The weakness is a kinetic effect of Wang’s right foot injury — a Lisfranc fracture suffered last June 15 — and may be directly responsible for the 34.50 ERA Wang posted in three big league starts this year.

Cashman said that Wang will remain in Tampa to undergo a week to 10 days of physical therapy on his hips to help build the lacking power. Asked when the Yankees might see Wang at the big league level again, Cashman responded, “I don’t know.”

“I know it’s a minimum of 10 days to two weeks of physical therapy on the hips, and the fact that he’s a pitcher, after that, who knows?” Cashman said. “He’ll be able to throw to some degree, I believe, while that’s going on. The main issue is to get those hips taken care of and get him back on line, because they’ve gotten off line.”

And then came the 24 hours that shocked the baseball world: Epstein secretly slipping away from the winter meetings in New Orleans for a hush-hush meeting at the Four Seasons in New York with Rodriguez, who at 1:30 a.m. answered the door of his suite impeccably dressed in a suit, his hair freshly moussed. Before dawn Rodriguez agreed, in exchange for a couple of player options inserted in his contract, to give up millions to escape the purgatory of the Texas Rangers. Rodriguez even pledged to send some under-the-table money back to Rangers owner Tom Hicks to make the deal work.

That morning, after some hard bargaining, players’ union lawyer Gene Orza signed off on the deal, and a day later at a hastily called press conference in the .406 club at Fenway Park, Epstein announced that the club had acquired Rodriguez for outfielder Manny Ramirez, who had worn out the club with his trade demands, and a left-handed pitching prospect named Jon Lester.

Then Epstein leaned into the microphone to announce the second part of his bombshell: Nomar Garciaparra, the incumbent shortstop who had interrupted his honeymoon to call a Boston sports-talk show and complain about the A-Rod rumors, had been traded to the White Sox for outfielder Magglio Ordonez and a pitching prospect Brandon McCarthy.

A-Rod was fretting about how Nomar would handle him being on the same team until Epstein told him about the trade for Ordonez. A-Rod’s eyes got as big as silver dollars. Ordonez was one of his best friends. “You don’t understand,” he’d told Epstein. “Magglio and I are tight. We work out all winter together. I taught him how to hit.”

  • Count SI.com’s Ben Reiter as being in the “Joba belongs in the pen” camp:

The 24-year-old flamethrowing Nebraskan now has 14 big-league starts under his belt, and thanks to a combination of limited pitch counts, poor run support, shaky bullpen work and uneven performances, he’s won just three of them. He’s walked at least four batters in five of those starts, and for every outing in which he’s been dominant — such as the one he turned in last July 25, when he struck out nine batters over seven shutout innings at Fenway — there’s been one like last Friday’s, when he walked five Cleveland Indians and allowed as many earned runs in 4.2 innings. Chamberlain hasn’t by any means been bad in his cumulative half-season as a starter (3.08 ERA, 9.8 strikeouts per nine innings), but he hasn’t been nearly as effective as in his 49 career relief appearances (1.53 ERA, 11.9 K’s/9), in which he can release his 97 MPH fastball and biting slider with impunity, without having to worry about saving something for the next inning, or the next.

  • Tickets for the upcoming Staten Island Yankees season go on sale at 10 am on May 18.
  • Juan Miranda turns 26 today.  Fun fact: Miranda collected his first major league hit on 9/24/08 against current Yankee A.J. Burnett.

[My take: When I do these fun facts, I feel like I’m writing copy for the backs of Topps baseball cards.  Here is a fun fact about me: Back in the mid-80s, I was a fact-checker for Sportflics (the cards with the 3-D images on the front).]

  • On this date in 1904, Highlanders pitcher Jack Chesbro posts the first of his 41 wins on the season, an American League record that (of course) still stands.
  • On this date in 1982, just 14 games into the season, George Steinbrenner fires manager Bob Lemon and replaces him with Gene Michael, the man Lemon had replaced last September.

See ya’ Monday!

Categories:  Diane Firstman  News of the Day

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1 thelarmis   ~  Apr 25, 2009 2:25 pm

i have a giant stack of those Sportsfics cards! in fact, i was flipping thru them just a coupla weeks ago when i was in NY visiting my family! they're all still in the top of my closet... : )

2 thelarmis   ~  Apr 25, 2009 2:32 pm

injured Humberto Sanchez has been DFA'ed...

3 Chyll Will   ~  Apr 25, 2009 2:34 pm

I can't fathom how that almost-trade would have effected the baseball landscape, and in all honesty I would have considered it an outstanding piece of work by Epstein. I guess the consolation of winning the World Series that year and three seasons later makes him feel a little better about the whole thing... oh, and the aspect of Rodriguez admitting to steroid use and all... and the Madonna thing... and the Toronto stripper thing... and the jump-back-and-kiss-myself thing... and the (you get the point >;)

4 Chyll Will   ~  Apr 25, 2009 2:36 pm

[2] We hardly knew yee...

5 randym77   ~  Apr 25, 2009 2:36 pm

Pete Abe is now saying Sanchez has been released.

He also says:

Bruney has what they are calling a strained flexor mass. His ligaments are fine, it’s a muscle injury. He will not throw for a week and they’re hoping that takes care of it.

...Damon hasn’t had an MRI yet but they’re convinced his tear is serious and so
he’s on the 60.

He must mean Ransom, not Damon.

6 Rich   ~  Apr 25, 2009 3:06 pm

One thing that the Joba to the pen crowd is missing is that if Joba has a physical or mechanical problem (he may well have both) these issues aren't going to suddenly resolve themselves, thereby enabling him to throw 98+, if he goes to the pen.

7 randym77   ~  Apr 25, 2009 3:14 pm

The YES guys yesterday were saying that this may be the "real" Joba - as a starter. That pitchers naturally can't pitch as fast if they know they're going to be pitching more than an inning or two.

Not saying that that's the case, but it's not unreasonable to think that there's no physical or mechanical problem - it's just the difference between pitching as a starter and pitching as a reliever.

8 Rich   ~  Apr 25, 2009 3:19 pm

[7] I'm not a big fan of Klapisch but:

It’s just that we’ve seen the real Chamberlain — and so have the Red Sox. A year ago he threw harder because his lead (left) shoulder was properly tucked. His slider generated more spin, because his arm wasn’t trailing behind his body. And his follow through was softer and more natural because his landing (left) leg wasn’t locked.

9 randym77   ~  Apr 25, 2009 3:27 pm

[8] But if you read the rest of the article, he thinks Joba might be better off in the pen.

It’s time for the Yankees to accept what’s become obvious to even the untrained eye: Chamberlain’s blow-away arsenal simply doesn’t translate over 90 pitches.

I'm an agnostic on this particular question - just saying, it's possible to think Joba belongs in the pen, without it being evidence that you're missing something.

10 Rich   ~  Apr 25, 2009 3:36 pm

[9] Apart from the question of which role he is best suited for and which role is more valuable, as I said at [6], the advocates of such a move have to explain why his mechanics and therefore his command, velocity,and the tilt on his slider are suddenly going to improve with a move to the pen. I don't believe it's merely a pitch count issue. If it was, he wouldn't have been so effective as a starter last season. Unless he is hurt.

11 randym77   ~  Apr 25, 2009 3:54 pm

Klapisch seems to be arguing that the change in mechanics is because he has to go longer.

12 Rich   ~  Apr 25, 2009 3:58 pm

[11] I wasn't sure what he was arguing. I share his view that there is a problem (that may be mechanical or an injury or both), but I think this performance last season as a starter rebuts his contention.

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